Children, Young People and Families Round Table – October 2019
The Children, Young People and Families Round Table met in early March at BMS Birmingham. This national group aims to help our Baptist family join the dots between church, home and community.
The Children, Young People and Families (CYF) Round Table met recently at BMS Birmingham. This national group aims to help our Baptist family join the CYF dots between church, home and community. Representatives from various Baptist Associations were present, including Clare Hooper (Southern Counties), Pete Herbert-James, Amie Buhari (London), Sarah Fegredo (East Midlands), Central (Andrew Ginn), Sara Barron (South West), Emma Mohr (South Wales) and Maeve Whitchurch (South Eastern). Further wisdom was provided by Rachel Swaby (schools and education), Sian Hancock (theological reflection and colleges), Sandra Crawford (Messy Church) and Mike Lowe from the Faith and Society Specialist Team. Our accompanier was Jenni Entrican for whom we have been grateful and blessed by her insight and prayerful reflections over recent years.
We used the method of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® (LSP) as a facilitation tool for our reflections. This helped provide space for everyone to talk; building a model gives your brain a hand to think things through; it kept us creative in our conversation and thinking. LSP has 3 key elements to it - build, share and reflect. We began simply building a model of something reflecting our journey to Birmingham - where have we come from. We took a bit longer to make models telling the story about our ministry contexts/Associations. We set these out to mirror the geographical layout of our Baptist family so we could begin to see our shared story and to hear of the developments and opportunities since we last met. There were a number of themes emerging from this:
These models remained with us throughout the 24 hours and inspired much prayer.
The interwoven multiple hats/ministry strands we bring;
Change and the cost of this as well as the need to be open to what we don’t yet see;
Communication including the challenge of changing mindsets
We followed the same pattern again in our business meeting on Tuesday, but this was more prayerful listening as we built. This time our model was to be a metaphor for the next step for the Round Table.
These models gave us much to think about - winds of change in CYF ministry; the need to pierce the heart of the church for all to have a heart for CYF; the (too often) dismembered body/church where children and young people are not invited to join in; a sense of urgency in communicating the need, the alternative - right now! Hope of transformation; the prophetic voices of children and young people; having the courage to take off - step out; the Round Table as bridge-builders. In our closing communion, Sarah Fegredo invited us to bring both sets of models to the table alongside the bread and wine. It made for a very colourful table!
There were three aspects regarding the conversation on education. Firstly, the Round Table will get a genuine picture of our Baptist Family’s engagement with education, secondly the Associations asking the questions helps them get a picture of what that looks like in their Association and finally through this exercise we might discover suitable names for the Baptist Education Group, a national group we want to speak into Education. Here a couple of ways that you might want to facilitate the conversation within your Association.
1. The Green colours highlight on the ground involvement and the Yellow colours represents those involved in creating culture through policy influence and it’s these people in particular that we would be keen to get involved in the Baptist Education Group.
2. Or you could just ask the following questions (this is definitely not an exhaustive list!
What is your church’s involvement in local schools?
How do you look to influence the culture within local schools? What might that look like?
How can our Baptist Family support the work that is being done in education?
How might you be able to support the work of the Baptist Family in regard to their commitment to education?
Various reports from around the regions were shared, including:
Andrew Ginn from the Central Baptist Association
(CBA) has shared an update of the work of CYF Round Table at a Hertfordshire Ministers Meeting in June 2019, offering the same to Beds and Bucks which has yet to be taken up – as well as taking an opportunity to share some further details of the work at the recent CBA Ministers Conference, which included promoting a gathering planned for the 1st Feb 2020, which seeks to draw together staff and volunteers in CYF ministries from around the region. The event will run as an extension of the Round Table ethos; sharing questions, listening to one another and praying. CBA has offered support for the day, which will be hosted at Bunyan Baptist Church. Also, the Autumn Edition of the CBA news ran an article on the integration/ inclusion of children and youth as a vital expression of Church unity – the article will also run in the January Baptist Together Magazine.
Andrew also reported on “1277 – Make Them Count”: a national network of Christian Toddler group leaders, which seeks to encouragement positive Christian engagement during the first 1277 days of a child’s life, to support parents and improve outcomes for children. While the network is still healthy, in that there are over 1,800 Toddler group leaders connected with the Facebook page who use the recourse well, the Steering Group structure is a bit more fragile. Andrew shared about the challenge to retain Steering Group Members, a few cancelled meetings as a result of poor attendance and that the chair is due to step down soon with no eager successor (Andrew is deputy). When the group functions well, it represents the toddler groups from all the mainstream denominations, and other significant players (e.g. care for the family), but when there’s not a critical mass of engagement, the strategic direction of the group can be felt to dwindle.
Emma Mohr provided an update from South Wales Baptist Association
(SWaBA) – “I’ve been appointed Regional Minister for SWaBA for 3 days a week with a focus on CYF, official title Mission Enabler. Initial project will be to do an audit of where and what CYF ministry is happening in Wales, build relationships with CYF and supporting an Emerging Leaders Training Programme. Links with South Wales Baptist College (SWBC) have been strengthened, with an invitation to input into the SWBC Discernment Day and an opportunity to meet and discuss formation and training termly with the Co-principals and tutors. CYF training was giving at the SWaBA Association Day on ‘what do you do if you have no children in church’? This has resulted in opportunities to work with churches in a bespoke way. An audit is also being undertaken to discover how well used Open the Bible material is and where Prayer Spaces in Schools is being implemented”.
Sarah Fegredo reported from the East Midland Baptist Association
CYF network gathering in Jan (what are the big questions you’re facing?)
EMBA and YBA Exploring your call event
Seminar at Minister’s conference
CYF strand at Association day
Some individual support for churches and CYF workers to do with jobs, work
Teaching on CYF at Northern Baptist College
Conversations with Renew Wellbeing about doing something for young people
We pray that churches understand the importance of CYF and want all Christian communities to be praying day by day and week by week. The Round Table will continue to engage regionally and nationally in person, events and through resources. We will be at the Baptist Assembly in 2020 with a particular focus on Messy Church.
CYF Round Table October 2019