Connecting with the youngsters of today

Bryn Jenkins with the young people from St Simons
Bryn Jenkins with the young people from St Simons
The Village Hotel at Lakeside North Harbour, Cosham. Photo: Deborah Croker

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ONE of the questions I often get asked as a youth pastor is how many young people I work with?

I’ve been the youth pastor at St Simon’s, Southsea, for six months now, and numbers seem very important.

In a society where the church attendance of young people has significantly decreased, I guess that’s inevitable.

It’s true that younger generations don’t always have the same sense of commitment to churches, political parties, residents’ associations and many other groups.

They are more likely to pick and choose specific causes to promote.

One the key lessons I have learnt about youth work is that it is actually about quality, not quantity. I believe that if you are counting numbers to validate your success, then you have got the wrong idea of what success is.

For me, being a youth worker is primarily about building authentic relationships.

In the Bible, Jesus modelled how to share the Christian message through relationships with his disciples.

He equipped them to go to teach and inspire others.

Currently St Simon’s has a small group of young people who come along on a Sunday morning and also gather at a home group in the week.

Despite this group being small, there is a real sense of community within it. This is a great foundation to start and build from.

We are also working on building relationships with students in schools, through various groups and assemblies.

We have a close connection with Mayville High School, which is just opposite the church. It has been a pleasure getting to know students and engaging them in conversations about life and faith in a lunchtime group.

Looking ahead to the future, we are starting up a Friday youth club called Fusion Café.

I am incredibly excited to welcome young people from all over the city to come and have fun in church, and challenge them to see church not as a dull and lifeless place, but a vibrant community that has an awful lot to offer them.

If you are youth worker or volunteer in a similar position to me, I would encourage you to have faith in small beginnings.

After all, Jesus started with just 12 disciples, but they helped to change the world.

For more information about the work we do at St Simon’s Church, you can visit our website stsimons-southea.org.uk.