Emma Garrow reports exciting developments at re:generation youth church (2009).
I don't come from a Christian background, I never knew about God... Going to re:generation was a new experience for me. For the first time in a long time I felt accepted... I've recently joined the worship band which has helped me grow in my faith.
I immediately saw that re:generation was different to my previous church. The people here actually wanted to worship God and I was welcomed as if I was a long lost friend.
These are the voices of two teenagers, members of re:generation youth church in Romford, Essex, a church that provides a spiritual home to around 50 young people aged 13 to 21, both churched and unchurched, and with a wide range of cultural styles. At re:generation, young people from diverse backgrounds get along very well.
Ordinarily, this wouldn't happen, but because of their love for Christ these boundaries are crossed over,
says leader, Jamie Poch.
re:generation has grown since its beginnings in 2004 out of a core of 20 young people drawn from a Methodist Circuit of 13 churches. A programme of fun events led to a drama group, a confirmation course, residentials, Bible studies and youth services. Spontaneously, members began to invite their friends and now about a quarter of its members were previously unchurched.
They were excited, because it was meeting their need,
So now young people come along and become Christians who've never been to church before. It's quite exciting how it's growing in that way.
Another reason for this growth is the church's key value of friendliness and welcome, and a desire to encourage a sense of belonging to all comers, 'whether Christian or not'.
A welcome team rota, 'Be a Blessing', involves all the members in this ministry. A shortage of adult helpers when Jamie and his wife, Ruth, were setting up the youth church bred a necessity which has proved a blessing in itself. The young people had to get involved in practical ways such as administration, setting up and clearing away, leading small groups.
It made sense,
Because they're doing it, they're owning it, which is a wonderful thing. They're the ones on the door.
The church meets in a dedicated space in one of the Circuit churches and has several meetings through the week, including a main Sunday evening service. Members are in 'PODS', which encourage friendship and discipleship.
Within the last year, a few adults have started attending, including some parents, something which Jamie views as an opportunity.
It could be rather exciting to see how to deal with the interested parents,
We could have a youth congregation planting an adult congregation.
We're always looking to the future and saying, "Okay, God, now what?" It evolves and we don't necessarily know what it's going to be and that's an adventure.