A big welcome to Barrie Voyce, who joins the central diocesan team today in a new role as Senior Youth Connector. Many of us will know him as the LIFE leader for our Youthwork strand of the diocesan LIFE vision, and for his work with Illuminate Stroud and the Engine Room in Stroud. We talked to him about what he’s going to be doing and his hopes for the next few years for this post.
Tell us about the big vision for the project
Barrie said, “The vision is about supporting youth ministry that’s already going on and inspiring parishes and deaneries to get involved in youth ministry. We’re aiming to help young people to explore faith for themselves and also connect them up local worshipping communities, whether that’s a thriving youth congregation a few miles down the road, or joining with young Christians across denominations.
“I’m really excited about this fresh opportunity for us as church to think bigger and deeper about youth ministry. One thing that the past year has shown us is that young people have a yearning for spirituality, faith and community, and the Youth Connect vision will help us engage with them in new ways that are relevant and appropriate for them right now.”
What are we hoping to achieve?
“We hope that at the end of five years, every parish church will be prioritising youth ministry. That may involve having their own youth provision, but might include signposting young people to other churches where youthwork is vibrant, supporting youth work in other churches or sending volunteers from their church to resource youth ministry.
How will that happen?
“Currently youth ministry tends to be based around areas where there’s already a lot going on, but most of our churches don’t have many young people in the congregation. Over the coming months, we’ll be piloting a system of local deanery youth connectors. They will be people who already have an understanding of what’s happening in their local area and will be able to help with training, recruitment, local events and leadership development programmes for young people.
“We’re also going to be focussing on better interaction with secondary schools, building on the great work that’s done with primary schools. We recognise that in a lot of cases we don’t have strong relationships with secondary schools, so we want to really work hard to build up these relationships and bring blessings into the schools.
How does this fit with the OneLife project?
“Youth connectors and OneLife are overlapping parts of a Venn diagram. OneLife’s work is based around sports ministry and creating new worshipping communities. Youth connectors will be engaging with more established church communities, but there will be lots of opportunities to work together. Youth connectors might be working with groups of young people who were regular Messy Church congregation members, but felt ready to take the next step into something new.”
How can I get involved?
You can listen to Barrie speaking about his role on BBC Radio Glos here. Listen from 2 hours 40 minutes into the show.