Archdeacons Blessed by the Ministry and Leadership of Our Young People

Young people from around the Diocese of Leicester showed the Archdeacons of England and Wales how they like to worship by leading a series of prayer and praise sessions at a national conference in Derbyshire recently.

Matt Long, diocesan Youth Engagement & Intergenerational Communities Enabler, took a group of Ministry Experience Scheme (MES) young adults to The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, where they put their ‘spin’ on the liturgy of the day and led a room full of Archdeacons in Evening Prayer.

Children from St Edward's C of E Primary School in Castle Donington, and students from Brockington College in Enderby, also put together worship videos that were shared with the Archdeacons during their residential.

The Archbishops’ Council have several objectives which seek to prioritise and empower young people, including the aim to create a younger church by doubling the number of children and young active disciples in the Church of England by 2030; and growing a more diverse church, to fully represent the communities they serve in age and diversity.

With this in mind, our young people were keen to spend time worshiping with a sector of the Church’s ‘hierarchy’ they knew little about. They also rose to the challenge of ‘designing’ a service using unfamiliar liturgy.

Three of our MES participants - Vyv, Naomi and Marina - and two other children, aged eight and 12, joined Matt for the service.
Naomi and Marina played guitars and led the sung worship, as well as sections of the liturgy including the collect and psalm, while Vyv did the Bible readings. Naomi selected the songs, and they chose a contemporary version of the Magnificat via Youtube video.

Matt explained: “We stripped the liturgy back a little and led in a light and joyful way. On reflection, we could have pushed the boundaries more… another time!
“It was great to see the young people, who are unfamiliar with liturgy, engage with the process of designing and delivering a service of Evening Prayer. We had some great conversations in the process.”

As a diocese, and as the Church, we seek to raise-up our children and young people by nurturing them, listening to them, and learning from them. Giving them the space to lead worship is a great way to do this.

Matt said: “Ultimately, it’s about ownership of faith and the freedom to express that faith authentically, using the God-given gifts young people have. It’s important for young people to be involved in the design and leading of prayer and worship, so they can both bring themselves fully to God in their own way, as well as learn from and experience a range of traditions, styles, and preferences in worship. It’s about celebrating our diversity together!”

The Archdeacons really appreciated the energy with which our young people led worship and held the space.
“The young people were buzzing afterwards,” said Matt. “They had a real sense of using their gifts to minister to and bless others and a sense of sharing something of their worship-style and preference with older Christians.”

On the journey home they enjoyed a McDonalds dinner and spent time together reflecting on their experience.
Matt says the young people acknowledged and appreciated the opportunity to play a part in something bigger and something different to what they’d normally be a part of.
“They were also both critical of how ‘old and rigid’ some traditional church can be, while at the same time ‘energised’ to play their part alongside their elders to see ‘kingdom stuff’ happen,” he said.

Vyv also shared her thoughts with us. “I really enjoyed leading worship, the atmosphere was joyful and the group engaged well,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to do something a bit different and I learnt what an Archdeacon was!
“Often church leaders get stuck in their ways, so it’s great to get young people involved to allow the church to learn and grow.”

First published on: 12th February 2024
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