Gillespie Memorial Church (GMC) joined the Growing Young year-long cohort in September 2020 to work alongside other churches in Scotland, guided by The Fuller Youth Institute in America, to explore how they could involve and retain teenagers and young adults in the Church in order to ‘grow’ as a Church family.
There have been a number of on-going on-line conferences and webinars that GMC’s Growing Young’s Team have been taking part in which provides them with the tools to help GMC slowly grow spiritually, emotionally, missionally, and numerically.
GMC’s Team consists of : Lynn Templeton (Co-Ordinator); Mike Weaver (Pastor); Lee Whitecross (Youth Pastor); Aileen Christie (Elder); Catriona Fett (Youth Church Leader); and Lorna Cook (Youth Church Leader).
The Team have been learning that there are basically six Core Commitments that are needed in order to ‘grow young’ :
- Keychain Leadership
- Empathy Today
- Jesus’ Message
- Warm Relationships
- Prioritise Everywhere
- Best Neighbours
These are all based around a Jesus-Centered Community.
Culture Change: What does it look like?
GMC had to start by taking a long hard honest look at Gillespie Memorial Church, listen to the congregation, and assess where Growing Young could show the Church’s team how to position the Church to engage younger generations in a way that would breathe vitality, life, and energy into the whole church.
It was recognised that change would be a gradual process not just an organized event or two, and that effectively the foundations were being laid for all the future work that God has planned for GMC.
Everyone, not just the younger generations need to be involved in the process, after all, people support what they help to create.
The ‘baby steps’ began with the Youth Church sending individual ‘kindness cards’ to some members of the congregation during the start of the pandemic explaining who they were and what they were getting up to during lockdown. They asked how the older members of the congregation were coping and what they were up to in the hope that a dialogue would begin between the generations and that relationships would grow and strengthen.
The Youth Church also invited members of the congregation to join them during their on-line Zoom Sessions on a Sunday morning where they were basically being ‘interviewed’ by the Youth Church. Both young and old learnt a lot about each other!
GMC’s Youth Pastor, Lee Whitecross, started an on-line Games Evening on a Friday night which is being well attended and enjoyed.
Physically, Youth Church began again after Easter 2021, with the session in the Gillespie Centre lasting for the full hour of the Church Service in the Sanctuary (main building), as the Youth Church had made it clear that they wanted their own space, where they could relax and feel safe to talk and question.
Change must be invoked not imposed and the GY Team are endeavouring to lead change that will last.
GMC want to, and should be a Jesus-Centre Community.
How can you be involved?
This is a season of opportunity to be grasped in order to strengthen ‘the vine’ so please become involved and contact the Church Office on 01383 621253 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact one of the GY Team Members to find out more and voice your God-given ideas and suggestions.