Young adult conferences: skills and characteristics

Friday, 5 July, 2013

James Henley, Jon Curtis, Laura Whitmarsh, Bryony Wells, Damien Hine and Hannah Jackson share the skills and characteristics that make a good young adult pioneer, in interviews recorded at the Fresh Expressions young adults round table conferences on 13th April 2013 (London) and 18th April 2013 (Sheffield).

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James Henley: I think the main kind of characteristic that somebody looking to reach young adults needs is just perseverance, is keeping going and not be phased by things changing and groups of people who you've been in touch with for a long time suddenly disappearing or suddenly in a short period of time people appearing and showing incredible amounts of growth and interest in Jesus and discipleship and all of that and so it's about kind of rolling with the punches. So perseverance and that flexibility to just go with it when God's at work and when you see him doing stuff and go with what he's doing.

Jon Curtis: Not worry about doubts, not worry about someone's trouble with scriptural authority, or someone's troubles about a certain ethical issue and understand that questioning is good and that doubt's really brilliant and to question something is to start to want to understand it and if someone says I can't get on board with this idea, well that's brilliant! That's not something to shut the door and say that we can't be friends, it's to say that's amazing that you're even thinking about that, let's talk that through. So to have patience to deal with why the things going on but also to not take things personally, not take things to heart and be strong in your own understanding – and that's a really important gift to have.

Laura Whitmarsh: I think being prayerful is incredibly important – listening, discerning. Not being afraid to just be, and just be yourself and bring the gift that you are. Traditionally I think, perhaps in youth work in particular which is my background, 'doing' was very important and the fruit was seen in numbers in terms of bums on seats, and in fresh expressions it's going to take an awful long time before you even get a group of people together, let alone them worshipping or being discipled. So just being ok and content with just being yourself and just seeing where God takes you.

Bryony Wells: I think a lot of people my age are slightly disillusioned by leaders who are a bit older who just seem to have it all together, and especially who lead from the front in a way that doesn't show any kind of brokenness or any weakness and I think our generation are looking for people who are authentic and are ok with a bit of brokenness and are ok with things not all being neatly packaged. So I think as a leader being able to have authentic integrity in your own life but being able to challenge people to keep walking with Jesus, to keep having a go at it, but without dismissing the challenge of that and that there is brokenness in my own life and I'm still working this stuff out but I can also… I can still have a go. I think that would be one of the skills that's really important.

Damien Hine: So the ability to listen: listen to God and listen to the people that you're trying to reach out to and to pray through that, reflect on that and say alright, in this context, under God, what is the best way to lead this fresh expression, this movement of God that he's doing. So I think I'd say courage, courage is very important. Courage to be able to think outside of the parameters that you might have been given, courage to take risks, courage to possibly fail, courage to go where people haven't gone before. And then thirdly I think ultimately what's really important is to be able to love well. To love the people that you're going to and to be able to laugh at yourself as well. I think those two are things that are very very important, they help to keep you grounded as well.

Hannah Jackson: I think authenticity, being real, being honest and open about your own journey invites other people to be open and honest about their own journeys as well. I think you need a lot of perseverance, steadfastness, a sense of humour and trusting in God I suppose!


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