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Children, Young People and Families Round Table – October 2017

THE CYF Round Table met early October at the International Mission Centre in Birmingham. This national group aims to reflect, inform, inspire and raise the profile of CYF ministry across Baptists Together. Representatives from 10 Regional Associations attended along with Sian Hancock from Bristol Baptist College, Ross Hendry and Sara Willcocks from Spurgeons Children’s Charity and Martin Sweet from Spinnaker.


Aim lower, think smaller, give up, Go have a cup of coffee

The group spent time in theological reflection with the following video and an extract from the book ‘Little Wins’ by Paul Lindley.

The video unpacks the provocative title ‘Aim lower, think smaller, give up, Go have a cup of coffee’ by exploring why we should be aiming at lower age groups, investing in younger leaders, giving up old and bad habits and talking with people outside our church. The book extract considered what ‘growing down’ might mean for adults. What if we adopted more childlike qualities in adult life, such as:
  • Be confident
  • Be creative
  • Dive right in
  • Never give up
  • Get noticed
  • Be honest
  • Show your feelings
  • Have fun
  • Involve others 

The group then considered what 'growing down' means for Baptists Together as we serve amongst children, young people and families.  What might it mean for the Church?  Here are some of the thoughts.
  • How do we get meetings to be creative spaces?  Why do we sit round tables with pieces of paper?
  • How do we get people to engage?  The teaching of Jesus focused around parables which prompted questions and no easy solutions.  Give people the tools to be creative.  It’s about helping to discover, not giving the answers, but good questions.
  • There can be ‘bad toddler’ behaviour by adults in church!  What if we transform energy from negative to positive?  The gossiper can become the networker, self-centredness can be a driver for getting things done.
  • Let’s not be afraid!  Toddlers are characterised by falling over and getting back up before falling over and getting back up.  It’s how they learn so quickly.  What if we adopted that approach of not giving up in church?
  • Let’s being honest about our vulnerabilities.
  • How do we open-up the creative thinking? - Sunday morning being a very good starting point!  What’s ‘proper church’ anyway?  Pull apart Sunday morning and then reflect deeply about how worshipping people encounter Jesus.  Make people talk.
  • Remember there’s a difference between childish and childlike.  We must be inquisitive and have a hunger to learn.
  • When reading the Bible, look at the way certain characters reacted and what can we learn from that.

Spurgeons Children’s Charity


Ross Hendry, CEO of Spurgeons, shared that in their 150th year they have been thankful that God has protected and provided in that time.  They have also been reflecting on where they go next.  They are being intentional about reconnecting their values with the Gospel; a better present with a more hopeful future socially, emotionally and spiritually.
Three years ago they wanted to reimagine what a Christian children’s charity should look like and asked the question about what children they wanted to work with. They settled on:
  • Children in vulnerable families
  • Children with heavy burdens, such as those caring for parents
  • Children at risk of being exploited 

They want to be salt and light in the public square, distinctive in being Christ-like.  They want to help churches in their social mission and get them into the darker corners of their community.
They are exploring what partnership looks like in the places where they don’t currently have a presence.
To find out more visit our recent intereview with Ross Hendry http://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/500404/_God_s.aspx and our dedicated page http://www.baptist.org.uk/Groups/291551/Spurgeons.aspx




Martin Sweet has been working in schools for 30 years and heads up Spinnaker, a team of committed Christians with links to the mainstream churches within the Christian community.  They operate in 14 hubs around South London, Kent, Surrey and West Sussex, supporting primary schools in the delivery of Christian collective worship and religious education.
Martin reflected on the fact that churches must do schools work well or it can be damaging.  Careful consideration must be given to the question ‘how do we unpack concepts at their level?’  This was given sharp focus when Martin was asked by a nine-year-old Muslim ‘What does it feel like to be a Christian?’

Spend a moment answering that question yourself and how you would respond to that young person.
Schools work is a fantastic opportunity to connect with the community.  What we bring to the table must bless the schools and be effective.  Martin provided these tips on how to measure the effectiveness of collective worship:
  • What was that about?  Can everyone tell you afterwards?
  • Involve their imagination and engross them; imagination is the seed bed of faith.
  • Was their conscience touched?
  • Were 75% of children engaged 75% of the time? 

Then get smart in the delivery.  A good assembly considers:
  • The environment at the time (is it a cold, uncomfortable floor, for example?)
  • Resources – get the best.
  • Get your most engaging speaker to deliver it.
  • Make prayers a plenary prayer weaving in school values. 

Martin has also been a Baptist voice for many years, representing us at the Free Church Education Committee.  Their aim is to impact and influence the RE syllabus.  He says there is significant opportunity for Baptist teachers and governors to get involved and have a voice.
Martin is a big believer that discipleship can happen away from church, and schools' work is where he has seen that happen.  We must get involved.
To find out more about Spinnaker and download free resources to use in schools visit http://www.spinnaker.org.uk. Also read the articles he has contributed on behalf of the Baptist Education Group http://www.baptist.org.uk/Groups/281426/Baptist_Education_Group.aspx

Where next for CYF?

The group wants to help the regions connect and will be aiming to do this through resourcing days, attending ministers’ conferences, building a bigger presence on the Baptists Together website and in other ways we communicate, like the Baptists Together magazine.  Individuals are also representing the group in many other forums like:
  • 1277 Toddler Ministry
  • Children’s Ministries Network
  • Messy Church
  • Youth for Christ 

The group will also be adopting the schools' work and representation that Martin Sweet has been leading.  He will become a co-opted member of the group and provide clarity and guidance as they seek to be an effective voice on school-related ministries.
The time concluded with Communion and these words:
We believe in the Spirit of Life
Who animates us with the breath of God
Who assures us that we are God’s children
Who calls us to risk
To offer up the gifts we have been given


Please share this update with your church. 
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Key messages from the CYF meeting at BMS Birmingham
Key messages from the CYF meeting at BMS Birmingham
Key messages from the CYF meeting at BMS Birmingham
Key messages from the CYF meeting at BMS Birmingham
Key messages from the CYF meeting at BMS Birmingham