Youth Bus Ministry
I recently spent ten days in England, speaking in the Chiswick church in metro London. We had a great time and the Lord was very present. However, prior to my week of speaking, I spent two days with some church planters down in Yeovil, which is close to the southern coast.
They have been there for eleven years now, and have been working on ways to reach the youth in the community. Along the way they have done many things, and garnered a fair amount of success, and respect, with the local council and the young people.
Here are two projects they've pulled off.
The first amazing—at least to me—project was their Streetwise bus project.
They purchased a bus for cheap, spent major money rehabbing it for ministry—lower level has a cafe and chairs for hanging out; the upstairs level has an area for watching DVDs and a whole line of computer terminals, etc.—and with it, they are bringing ministry to the various villages in their area.
It goes without saying that considerable funds went into rehabbing the bus!
Needless to say the kids love coming to their bus. Way to go for a new way to do ministry.
They are basing their ministry on Isaiah 58 and the approach advocated in Ministry of Healing.
In one of the villages the kids had painted graffiti all over the skate park. They decided to work with the youth to repaint the park with their own decorating scheme. The kids were game and eventually designed and decorated their park. Guess what, the kids were able to take ownership for something, relationships were forged in the process, the town council was happy the church planters were in the area--granted the term church planter might not be the term the town council used or even thought about, the park is now beautiful, and the kids are no longer putting graffiti on it. Job well done!
I think I could learn a lot from them on how to work with youth.
One thing stands out: they get the kids involved from the beginning, so the kids have ownership from start to finish. They really want to know what the kids want, cleverly find active ways to involve the kids in planning and leading out, and then try to find a way to leverage the kids participation for ministry—which admittedly takes a gentle, non-threatening, approach.
For example, they were wanting to do develop a "hangout" for the youth in one village. So they got the kids together and had them design and build a "hangout" with what I would describe as oversized plastic legos. While they were constructing the hangout, the youth were asked to discuss what the place should be like, etc.. The key questions which were eventually discussed were cleverly hidden inside balloons which could only be read as the kids popped them with darts. Not only did this get the kids actively participating, it also allowed the couple to see natural leaders emerge who could help lead out.
Les and Dana, the leaders have also organized "play days" for the schools in the area. I don't even know what that means exactly, but it apparently works.
They have been spending 11 years doing this and I believe they have gained significant insights on how to work with youth.
Les and Dana are doing a fine work there in Yeovil. Here is Dana inside the bus.