Sorted - update Aug13

Monday, 5 August, 2013

Church Army evangelist Andy Milne gives the latest news on Sorted in Bradford.

It is a time of real change. We have been fortunate enough to have a guy working with us called Nick Lebey, an evangelist-in-training, but he is now moving on to start another fresh expression of church among young people in London. We will really miss him but fortunately we have got funding for a replacement and we hope to get someone in by September.

Another sign of change is that many people know us as the 'skateboarding church' because when we started off we did a lot of that. These days we hardly do any skateboarding at all – things have moved on in lots of ways.

There are now three Sorteds:

  • Sorted - groupSorted 1: This was the original Sorted which is becoming a place for the young people who have grown up through it. It grew out of the work in a secondary school but the young people are now aged 17 to 22. Sorted 1 meets on a Sunday night for a social get-together; Monday night is worship night and Wednesday night for small group Bible discussions. At the moment they are just exploring, and starting to get into, young adult mission.
  • Sorted 2: This grew out of a different secondary school to Sorted 1; it has been running for four years and Nick has done a lot of work in that school which has given it a very firm foundation. Sorted 2 meets on Thursday nights in small groups, Friday night is an open night for young people and Sunday night for worship.
  • Sorted 3: About 40 younger teenagers from the original secondary school now meet on Friday evenings to hang out together and hear a gospel message. We plan to start a couple of small discipleship groups in the autumn in response to their requests to take this a stage further. It is provisionally called 'Sorted 3' but it could well change its name as things develop.

Sorted - groupLast October we formed a new leadership team there, 50% of which was young adults from Sorted 1 and we started again in the very first school we worked in – Immanuel College. Most of the time there will be about four adult leaders and another six aged between 16 and 19.

We're also running a group for young parents because a lot of young adults in this area have children of their own at the age of 18 or 19. The group, called Thrive, is still in its early days but it's driving us to ask the question again, 'How do we do church with the people who have journeyed with us into adulthood?' We feel reasonably confident with what to do with them from the ages of 11-19 but how do we do things equally well for them as young adults?

Two of the parents from this group said they were happy to attend because they knew us, explaining, 'We wouldn't do it if it was somewhere else but we'll do it here'. We have known them for a long time so it's all about relationship and going to where they are 'at' rather than expecting them to come to us. These are young adults who are not only unreached by traditional church but they are, in many instances, not within the scope of local authority services either. They wouldn't necessarily want to get involved in local council parenting groups, for example. They don't feel part of that but they do feel part of Sorted.

Sorted - curry nightIn the long-term, we hope and pray there will be a Sorted church community for our young people and adults to take ownership of but we want it to be their mission not ours. We are the enablers rather than the direct evangelists.

There is now so much going on and we thank God for it' but it's true to say that without the support and backing of the Church Army it would have been impossible to sustain.

We have come a long way since Sorted started in 2003 with me as the one salaried employee – though my wife was very much involved as an unpaid person! In 2008 she started working part-time with Sorted and that was a great help.

As Church Army operates mission-based training teams, we became a mission-based training centre in 2009 and we are very fortunate to have benefitted from the enthusiasm and energy of several people since then, including James (Hawksworth) and Damien (Hine) who work with me now. That extra staffing has been crucial in giving us the resources to multi-plant.

Sorted - laptopI have no plans to move in the immediate future but, eventually, our aim is to try and raise up more young leaders like the ones we see now running Sorted 3. In support of that we are doing lots of training and identifying young people to put into leadership roles sooner rather than later  because we try to make it clear that 'we have got to do this together, you have got to be doing things with us'.

The training course we have started is one called Play The Game which we are devising ourselves. Leaders from Sorted 1 and Sorted 2 are coming along to those sessions which take place every few weeks or so, it's very important to provide that mentoring and so identify who has the potential to be leaders.

We have got lots of ideas about what will go into Play The Game, some of it has been taken from other courses so there's a bit of Alpha in there, for instance, but we are looking to tailor it for this context and make a good, Christian discipleship course to help deepen their faith and also provide the practical skills needed in leadership. That means we'll be incorporating things like 'how to do prayer ministry' and 'preaching styles' as well as giving them the tools to be able to cope with day-to-day issues they'll come across. We want to get a good balance between developing character and encouraging gifts and skills.

Sorted - talkFinance is another issue we're looking at. Being a Bishop's Mission Order means that we have Church Council rather than a PCC and it is mostly made up of young adults from Sorted 1. We were asked to pay a share to the Diocese and the Council said they were up for it so that's what we're aiming to do.

The vast majority of the young people we're reaching have had very little or no church background. Something that has really helped in developing the work here is to visit local churches periodically, taking two or three of our young people with us. We do a short talk and then they get asked two or three questions by the congregations who love to hear what's going on because they see young people who are coming to faith. In turn, the young adults benefit because they are meeting people who are really interested in them. It's something that encourages dialogue and that can only be a good thing.

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