At our Harvest Festival Service on 13th October, we formally commissioned Charlie Powell as Youth Pastor in this church. Since his arrival on 1st September, Charlie took an “induction period” of about six weeks, during which time he met as many people as possible, visited as many groups as possible, linked up with as many “external” colleagues as possible (ie in Synod and CTO), meaning that he finished this period (albeit exhausted…) with a fairly clear picture of the ministry of our church to children, young people and their families.
Now, with the help of a team especially set up to support him, he will seek God’s guidance in setting priorities for his work here and gaining a vision for what Christian ministry amongst children and young people might look like in the church of 21st Century UK. It is a high challenge in our current culture, but we believe in God and in Charlie; Charlie believes in God and in us; God believes in us and in Charlie…….
For this is not a one-man ministry, as I am sure you all know. When Charlie was commissioned, we were all asked to make the following affirmations and promises:
Do you believe that people of all ages may love and serve God? WE DO
Do you receive Charlie as Youth Pastor in this church? WE DO
Will you support him and pray for him in his ministry here, in the local community and in the wider church? WE WILL
We are blessed with a large number of talented, experienced and committed people who are involved in our Youth and Children’s work, but these affirmations and promises were not only made by them but by us all. Everyone can make children and young people welcome by smiling at them and speaking to them. Everyone can offer practical help with events for children and young people, even if only on an occasional basis. Everyone can ask Charlie how he is getting on and encourage him to talk about his work and his hopes (not to mention his frustrations). Absolutely everyone can pray for him and for his ministry.
When I look back at my own Induction here as Minister, I remember the church family making similar promises to support me in my ministry. And yes, I can truly say that I have always felt the strength of that huge support, thank-you all, so very much. But perhaps it might help if I list a few of the less obvious areas of support, which might help you in wondering how best to support Charlie:
Spontaneous words of gratitude and appreciation, especially when the people concerned were totally unaware that I was having a bad hair day!
People willing to enter into serious discussion about new ideas and the inspiration we were able to gain from one another;
Those brave enough to argue against something I was suggesting! Whether I ended up agreeing with them or not, it still made me think things through more thoroughly and that is always a good thing;
Children waving excitedly at me on the street or in the shops;
People asking me about an aspect of my work which did not directly concern them, but it helped me to talk about it;
Despite my besetting sin of “interfering,” the comfort of knowing the people whom I can simply trust to get on with what they have committed themselves to do and not having to chase them up!
Feeling the powerful and continual support of your prayers, even if sometimes in retrospect after a difficult time.
This is not an exhaustive list. I just wanted to demonstrate that the support we promise to give and truly wish to give can come in many different forms and produce effects we had not reckoned on.
As St John himself said, “Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God lives in them.” ( 1 John 4: verses 7 and 16)
With my love and good wishes to you all,