Why Youth Work is Vital

Originally Published 1st December 2017

 Andrew Wedge – Youth Leader

Youth work took me from a traditional Young Church setting, where I was brought by my parents each week, to one where I was engaged with church life and my faith. More importantly, going to church became my own decision. I remember getting in the Youth Fellowship (YF) mini bus on a Sunday night and heading off for what was really a random adventure somewhere around Fife. Beach trips, walks into the woods, swimming, chips, water fights, hikes, chips, hitting sticks, BBQs, cinema trips and chips to name just a few. YF when I was a delegate brought together the few sporadic young teenagers from across Dunfermline, the villages and even as far north as Kinross into one group. The most common feeling amongst young Christians (or teenagers who are simply considering faith) is one of feeling alone, isolated and rare in an ever increasing secular society. Bringing together one teenager from each church created a group that could lean on or support each other through the journey into faith and adulthood, a community still in touch that now stretches across the globe to Australia, Dubai, Edinburgh and London, to name just a few.

These same ingredients are the ones we have used to continue YF today. We still meet on a Sunday night just after six, we still go on random adventures across Fife and we still eat copious amounts of food (mainly chips). What we have done however is join up with our neighbours in Kirkcaldy. At the Provincial Youth Committees (PYC) youth week held at Glenalmond a couple years ago we met and invited a delegate from Kirkcaldy to join the YF in Dunfermline so they didn’t feel like the only teenager. We then spoke with the Revd. Christine Fraser and created what we now more aptly call the Fife Cluster YF, where we take it in turns to travel to each church or many of Fife’s tourist spots in between. The PYC youth week symbolically brings together the crosses of the 7 Dioceses (plus one representing our international delegates) of our province; they come and fit together and bring our youth together as one larger family.

We have ourselves gone from having a YF made of three families and mainly siblings to one of many families, more than 12 who turn up regularly and with a real energy and passion for their individual journeys through faith. Since then not only has the group come together but they have achieved so much. 14 of the 15 people in the photo below from across our whole Diocese who went to Glenalmond came from the Fife Custer YF. Many now stand on church committees and groups, some stand on Vestry, one is even on the nominating committee for our new Bishop. Three of our youth leaders attend Glenalmond but also the many youth events throughout the year across Scotland. Our YF has spoken at Synod passionately about their faith and wanting to be involved at every level; they have attended events with other denominations and represented our whole Pisky church across the globe. We even a have a member who is now the chair of the PYC.

These young adults have a deep faith, personal to them but glowing to see. They are articulate, connected, talented and passionate whilst also having a huge amount of energy and creativity to enable our churches to grow. The YF doesn’t belong to one church, to a set of leaders or even our YF rector Christine, it belongs to all of the congregations across our Diocese. It belongs to all of us because it is part of all of us. Many rectors tell me they can’t have a YF, they can’t do youth work because there are no teenagers or just one or two – but simply taking the one or two out for a coffee or some food (free food always got me interested) once a month is a youth group. We are in a very fortunate position that we have a group that is growing and set to grow even more (due to members of our young churches growing up). I ask you to feel proud and take ownership of these young adults who are from our local area, engage with them, support them and know simply talking to them or turning up to the events they run, like some of you did for the Area Council service that they hosted in Kirkcaldy last month, is all you need to do to fire and enable their faith.