Youth Ministry at Cornerstone - More than 'just' a youth group
In the face of statistics showing huge dropout from church by teens, Cornerstone is blessed to have a growing and vibrant youth ministry. We know how precious it is to have young people in the church and we work really hard to make them feel a huge part of what's going on.
"Cornerstone is the first church I've been to which feels like 'my' church and not just a church where i'm known as someone's kid. I like how we are treated as grown-ups, that we're encouraged to discover what we're passionate about by serving in the church, that there's a definite feel that it is the whole church's role to disciple us and not just one youth-worker's job. Oh.. and Nerf Wars are incredible too!"
From the very beginning we've made some deliberate decisions about how we do our youth ministry. This is based on research in from the UK and the US which asked young adults in their 20's who had stuck with church what they considered to have been the most important factors in their faith development. Our principles are:
YOUTHWORK SHOULD ALLOW TEENS TO ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE CHURCH NOT REMOVE THEM FROM IT.
Our Sunday youth ministry has teens in church on 3 out of 4 Sundays: The first Sunday is an all-age service with lively worship, practical teaching and a youth-friendly feel.
The second Sunday encourages our teens to serve somewhere in the church in everything from playing in our band to serving coffee or helping in creche. We try to match a teens passions and talents with a place where they can get to know other church members, learn a skill and have fun all at once.
The Third Sunday in a month is communion. We have a 'youth table' with an experienced mentor who dishes out sweets, tips for active listening and is there to answer any questions that arise.
The fourth Sunday in a month is a time for our youth to go out for their own group. It's a chance to look at relevant topics in more detail with
YOUTHWORK IS ABOUT LIFE TOGETHER NOT JUST WHAT HAPPENS ON SUNDAY
An hour a week is not enough for growing vibrant faith. For any teen who wants it we offer one-to-one mentoring in the week as well as Sunday evening Bible Studies fortnightly from 7:30pm - 9:15pm. Our youth are encouraged to lead these Bible Studies and we offer help with understanding a passage and how to lead a discussion. The dream is that ultimately these will become totally peer-led with older teens training the younger ones and so on.
The Third Sunday in a month is our popular 'Youth Chill' evening. Mainly split into lads and girls groups this offers an evening of relaxation, fun and activities such as Nerf Gun wars, indoor Golf Masters, crafts, games, trips to places such as Trampoline Parks and Outdoor Laser tag and much much more! This is serious fun as many of the college aged students talked about times in people's homes as being the key thing they remember as making them feel a part of church.
The last Friday a month is where all our youth in years 7 and up get a chance to go do something cool and bring their mates along with them. The aim of this event is to help our youth know they are part of something bigger and to encourage them to begin the habit of inviting others along. Whether ice skating, sleep-overing or time away this new venture is already proving popular.
Cornerstone also runs 'Man Club' on Friday's after school from 3:15pm - 4:30pm. This lads group meets at Christchurch on the Upper High Street in Thame and is open to any young person in year 8 - 13. We teach 'man skills' and talk about faith, life and just enjoy hanging out.
TEENS WANT TO FEEL THEY ARE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER
With the massive holiday club 'Lighthouse' thriving in Thame, inter-church youth opportunities and trips to festivals like Soul Survivor and Morocco there are plenty of opportunities for teens to glimpse what a great and big God we have. Teens are often 'feelings' driven and these places really help them to combine what they know with a living experience of God. We don't measure the success of our youth ministry by numbers attending though that number is growing, we measure success by how many of our youth continue with God after leaving home. By that measure we're doing pretty well.