Examples of youth work programs that you might be able to apply to your situation can be found here and in the youth news section.
Below is an example of running a Pathfinders group at St Edmunds, Whalley Range. Leaders Remi Tonks and Fisayo Akinade talk about the group.
Pathfinders is a group for 11-19-year-olds. We have about ten members and are growing. We meet on Sundays during the Church service to study the Bible and play games. We try to make it as fun and interactive as possible by using props and PowerPoint presentations or study guides. A particularly interesting guide was called ‘What does the Bible say about The Simpsons?’
Members of the group are also encouraged to take part in church services. Some do the Bible readings and others help with the prayers. At Christmas and Easter the group usually prepares a play for the church service.
These opportunities are great for helping the group bond and they enjoy performing and rehearsing. Because they are involved in different parts of the service, Pathfinders understand and enjoy them a lot more. It helps them put into practice some of what we learn and lets us show the other church members what we have been doing!
We also organise bowling and cinema trips and have weekends away together.
Remi: “It has a big effect because I want to lead in a way that I would have appreciated in the past. We focus on parts of the Bible I found interesting and I try and make it as lively as possible because I remember having a short attention span!
"One of the most encouraging things about leading is hearing other peoples’ views and seeing them enjoy learning about God and the Bible in the group. Sometimes it's hard to get discussions going but it's usually just a case of breaking the ice and making everyone feel comfortable.”
Fisayo: “The time I spent as a member of the group helped me understand how important it is to hear everyone’s point of view and ask which topics interest people before we decide what we are going to do in the group. This helps stop people feeling left out."
Fisayo: “We get lots of support from other members of the church and its really encouraging to be asked to put on plays. This lets us know we are appreciated and they are always interested in the topics we have covered in the group. Sarah, our vicar, is particularly supportive and she is always happy to hear our feedback. It was difficult leading at first but now after some time it’s become easier."
Remi: “Sarah is great at helping us organise things outside church, like bowling. And a few weeks ago, she invited us all to lunch! Also Fisayo and I both went on a ‘Discovering Gifts’ weekend with other young people from the diocese which we found very helpful.”
Sarah Bullock, vicar at St Edmunds and St James, Moss Side is really encouraged by the way the pathfinders group has developed.
“Pathfinders are really involved in all aspects of church life. They take an active part in services which is really important as it encourages other young people to feel able to become involved because they see others like them. Also, Fisayo has just been re-elected to the Church Council along with another group member. And they are always willing to help with the washing up!”