Young adult conferences: reactions to the research

Wednesday, 15 May, 2013

James Henley, Laura Whitmarsh, Jon Curtis, Damien Hine, Bryony Wells and Hannah Jackson give their initial reactions to Beth Keith's authentic faith research into fresh expressions of church amongst young adults, 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 it's really useful to have these different types of church that are being formed with young adults to be able to compare and look at those. It's also really reassuring to have these different values of community, authenticity, doubt and change – all of those values – and to be able to think, oh actually we're not on our own in terms of what we've been thinking about and the values that hold our community together, other people are building church around the same lines as well. That's really reassuring and really helpful.

Laura Whitmarsh: I think Beth's research was actually really quite encouraging – that there was such a broad range, such a broad… kind of different models really that were being used in order to try and connect with the 20s and 30s. I think it was especially encouraging that the churches that wouldn't necessarily call themselves church were being identified and being recognised by the wider body. I think sometimes we can tend to ignore those, even though I think they've got a real prophetic voice and a real ability to give us an insight into what it is that people are actually after and need and want from their churches and also actually how to disciple them and how they are able to best connect with Jesus and what that looks like in their context. So I was really encouraged by it!

Jon Curtis: I think it's really useful to help to understand why groups happen in the way that they do, where those people come from that join those groups and how that'll help me to think about what any work I do in the future might look like.

Damien Hine: I think it was very very good. The way she's done it was obviously well thought-out and I think some of the conclusions she came to about the values and the different threads and themes that there are between young adult congregations and churches and fresh expressions really really resonated with work that I've done, different things that I've seen in young adult culture and young adult churches and I think it was very very relevant.

Bryony Wells: It was quite interesting to see how many of the threads were the same – the themes that came out from across what was a really wide, really varied group of churches but how those similar things came out of that I think are a lot to do with the values that young adults hold, regardless of whether they're churched or not – some of the things we talked about like being authentic and having community and just the nature of change. I think that's probably the reality for young adults everywhere, whether they're in church or not so I was really pleased that those were the things that came out, that all the churches were engaging with those things, so I think that's what struck me the most from her research.

Hannah Jackson: Some of the core values like authenticity, community, freedom to doubt… they were things that I expected to hear and they are definitely things that I have experienced in my own ministry and they're some of the values that I work out as well in the way I lead young adults.


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