Norwich Christian youth charity’s stark warning
Norwich Youth for Christ director Nick Blanch says that young people have suffered most during the pandemic, and the church has a crucial role in their recovery.
The annual showcase of the work of Norwich Youth for Christ was held on March 30 at Drayton Hall. The charity has been busy running new youth clubs, increasing online engagement with young people and initiating fantastic creative output. Nick said, “While there is much to celebrate, there are some significant challenges. The world has changed for young people. Modern life continues to erode the happiness of young people.”
Studies show that satisfaction and wellbeing levels are dropping amongst young people. There are increased rates of mental health disorders and psychological distress. Young people report an increase in negative experiences online and the pressure of school continues to dominate.
Nick said, “What is the message they hear? Study hard, catch up and achieve good grades. As a church we can offer a different narrative. Their spiritual life is important too. They need to know that their Creator loves them.”
78% of young people have never had a spiritual experience. Nick said, “We’ve got to wake up. There is a spiritual battle going on. We’ve got to engage in it.”
“More and more churches are backing away from serving young people. Churches are leaving it to those they feel are more equipped. They might spiritualise it and say that their ministry is to older people. If that is our attitude churches will die.”
It is possible to start from nothing and build something – as evidenced by Lynn, assistant vicar at Stoke Holy Cross church who has partnered with Norwich Youth for Christ to set up a youth club in the village. The church already had links with the local non-church primary school. Lynn said, “Some of us felt we were called to reach beyond that. We prayed and asked God what his vision was.” Members of the church completed a Foundation in youth work course online with Norwich Youth for Christ – all members of the church were encouraged to join in and find out what youth ministry might look like.
Previously there were two young people in congregation, now 34 on the register for the youth club, and Lynn hopes to run a Youth Alpha in the future.
Young people are online constantly so Norwich Youth for Christ feel it’s important to put themselves in that space. During lockdown they set up a gaming group that has grown and now meets three times a week. They have a Twitch channel to stream games and this has proved a successful way of maintaining contact with those they see in the week. The charity publishes Christian content on their youtube channel, which has seen 31,000 views in the last year.
What you can do
Pray through May. Pray Through May is a month of collective prayer focusing on specific areas of life for young people. You can get daily emails in the month May to help engage with this. To get info about Pray through May, people can sign up to the mailing list: https://norwichyfc.co.uk/mailing-list/
Host a gap year student
Engage with young people at your church (encourage them, and their leaders. Remember they need a church family.)
Support Norwich Youth for Christ financially
For more information about Norwich Youth for Christ visit https://norwichyfc.co.uk/