From the horse’s mouth: “We need young people leading church so it isn’t boring”

Liz Skudder is the youth outreach worker at Christchurch, Billericay. She spoke to Eleanor and Rebecca about young people leading in their church. This conversation highlights the need for young people’s voices to be prominent among church leadership conversations. Liz is doing a great job empowering the young people, but this discussion shows that it’s not easy or a short-term task. It is wonderful, in the trickiness of it all, to hear Eleanor and Rebecca’s enthusiasm for their church, demonstrating the vitality that young people bring to the mix. Eleanor is 13 and plays in the church youth band. Her hobbies are musical theatre and dance. Rebecca is also 13. She swims and is obsessed with Harry Potter. She plays the flute in the church youth band.

Liz: Is church important to you, and if so, why?

Rebecca: Yes, because it is a community and I am part of it therefore I feel like I belong to it. It is important to me to become closer to God and to be there on a Sunday to worship him.

L: You do a lot of worship leading, how do you feel about leading the church worship?

R: I feel confident when I play the flute. Especially as I have a best friend playing next to me: we’re very close to one another.

Eleanor: I like leading in church because it’s fun. I like seeing people’s reactions who haven’t necessarily come to church before and then they see us and they’re astounded by us because…

R: …we’re so good! (laughs)

E: … they don’t expect people like me and Rebecca to be able to do what we do.

R: You’re right, they expect us to be better!

(All laugh!)

L: What’s helped develop your leadership skills?

E: Ignite (the older children’s group). We do the prayers and Bible readings and that helps with my public speaking skills. At school I’m in the Mayfair Ambassadors and we do assemblies and it’s good because it’s in front of people our own age. Dancing is also good because I’ve danced on a stage since I was 6.

R: Reading in front of church has made me more confident and developed my leadership skills. Also swimming because I can beat people! I wear my gold medal proudly and feel absolutely confident! (More laughter!)

L: Who or what encourages you the most at church?

R+E (in unison!): Liz!

L: Who else?

R: My mum. She brings me to church and pays for my flute lessons.

E: I’d say my parents too because they take me. If my parents didn’t come, I wouldn’t come. I’ve been coming to church since I can remember. The people who say well done to me, Rebecca and my sister are giving us confidence to do it again.

L: Why is it important for the church to have young people leading?

R: So that it isn’t boring! And so the congregation experience other people’s views, opinions and facts.

E: So that it’s not old and boring - no disrespect to the old people or anything! It’s good to have a range of ages because the older generation has been brought up to do things the way they do them and then we come along and we change the atmosphere. It changes the way the church is run because they have to take us into consideration!

R: I think Bible readings should be shaken up a bit by acting so you can really visualise what is going on. Or, have younger people who put expression into their voice. L: So what impact would you like your involvement to have on the church?

R: A positive one.

E: Fresh. It brings a new lease of life into the service.

L: So what are the positives of letting young people lead?

R: Our opinions, our views, our turning over of a new leaf!

L: Which parts need to turn over a new leaf?

E: Sermons. They include a video and they’re like: “Yay, we included a video! That’s going to make young people love the sermon!”

R: Just, no!

E: In some cases, it’s a good video. Some are just 30 seconds, and then they just talk, they don’t get any involvement.

L: With regards to church, where do you see it in five years?

R: I think that the church will become bigger and more young people might come. We’ll still have old people but having fresh younger faces, which includes mine because in five years’ time I’ll still be young!

E: I hope there’ll be less people that are judgmental about going to church because religion is seen as an old person thing. It’s seen as some boring old thing that doesn’t really matter. I hope that opinion of it disappears and people are more open to younger people being religious. Because some people, even if they are the age we are, think that religion isn’t for young people, it’s too deep.

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