Growth spurt for Norwich Youth for Christ
Norwich Youth for Christ gave thanks for a year of growth at their Annual Showcase on Saturday evening, highlighting creative initiatives focused on sharing the gospel relevantly with the city’s generation of young people.
by Jenny Seal
Nick Blanch, Director of Norwich Youth for Christ (YFC), introduced the organisation’s Annual Showcase on Saturday March 5 describing the past year as ‘phenomenal’ and as ‘something of a growth spurt’.
The evening, entitled ‘#generationshifters’ provided an overview of the varied ways that the Norwich YFC team engages with young people both on a macro and micro level to share the gospel in a way that is generationally appropriate.
Nick Blanch (pictured right) said: “Over the last year we’ve sown seeds, we’ve had influential conversations and we’ve seen first time commitments. We’ve seen responses from young people to be salt and light, to make a difference, to follow Him into places they haven’t been before. We’ve seen new partnerships take form, existing partnerships blossom and new doors open.”
He said: “I believe that Norwich YFC is having something of a growth spurt at the minute and it would be very easy for us to sit back and try to take the credit for that, but the more I think about it the more I know that actually it is God that has led and guided us, and he keeps guiding us.”
The evening featured worship from Norwich YFC’s worship band, Storehouse as well as a performance from their music youth group The Jam. The audience of around 100 supporters, team members and young people were treated to a dramatised extract of an anti bullying workshop and introduced to the three Year Out volunteers.
The anti bullying workshop was developed as part of Norwich YFC’s response to the Who Cares Mission. In 2015 Norwich YFC in partnership with Integrate YFC, North Breckland YFC and East Norfolk YFC delivered an extension to Who Cares, the Norfolk wide church outreach project. Over 4,000 young people from 18 schools and other youth groups were asked the question ‘What hurts the most?’
The most common response was death followed by bullying. Norwich YFC have responded with various projects including the Anti Bullying Workshop, a remembrance service in a school, a mentoring service in another school, focused assemblies, lunch clubs, prayer spaces in schools and the production of two short films featuring stories about death and disappointment.
One of these films (below), Azaria’s Story - A Father to the Fatherless, was shown to the audience and met with great applause.
Film and music play a key part of Norwich YFC’s work to connect with young people. The evening included the commissioning of new Youth Worker for Music and Media Ben Lawrence. He described his work creating videos for Norwich YFC’s YouTube channel, www.youtube/wearethechorus, as his ‘dream job’.
Sarah Ballard, Norwich YFC’s Music Youth Worker talked about Tracks, a mobile recording studio set up within a van. The vehicle has been procured and the designs are currently being drawn up with the intention of having the studio on the road in the summer.
As well as nurturing young musicians, Tracks will use the professional quality recording equipment to work with disengaged young people in schools raising aspirations, giving them confidence and enabling them to write and record their own CD.
From September 2015 to February 2016 Norwich YFC have had over 6,000 contact points with young people, 2000 of which were opportunities to share their faith in a verbal way. As well as the larger initiatives such as their worship evening Encounter and anti-bullying workshop, the evening also focused on youth workers engaged on a more one-to-one level.
Nick Blanch interviewed Emmi Marlow who runs youth cafes in Poringland and Brundall, and Rupert Appleton who partners with Meadow Way Chapel running youth groups in Hellesden. Asked about how they shared their faith on an individual level, Rupert and Emmi both agreed that relationships were the key.
Rupert said: “It’s just really good to get alongside the young people, to walk with them in their journey, share the fun, the experiences, the highs and lows and journey with them”.
Thea Pitchers (pictured right) from National Youth for Christ concluded the evening with a challenging message focused around the evening’s theme, #generationshifters.
Thea listed the characteristics of today’s youth as global, social, visual, cynical, private, entrepreneurial and technologically reliant. She said: “If we are going to reach that world we need to understand that world.”… “It is important that we connect with them on their wavelength, that we use their language, that we use and communicate with them on the topics that they are interested in.”
She challenged the audience asking: “Will we love the young people of Norwich? That’s the great thing about this YFC team. They love young people and they love Jesus and they love this city.”
If you would like to find out more about the work of Norwich YFC please go to www.norwichyfc.co.uk