We’re really blessed on the ministry team here at NCC to have 8 individuals with different gifts, abilities, and backgrounds. We wouldn’t be so effective as a team if we were all the same as Mez. God intends for His church to be a diverse body of believers (Rom 12:4-10, 1 Cor 12:14-31), and the ministry team benefits from a similar diversity. It would be relatively easy to import workers into Niddrie (I’m an import myself), but my long term vision for the youth work team is to grow an indigenous leadership.
What do I mean by indigenous?
I mean young men and women, who’ve grown up in Niddrie, who know the community and identify with it, who’ve put their faith in Christ and have a passion to serve God and see the young people they’ve grown up around saved too. We see this model in many expressions of cross cultural mission work these days. The goal isn’t just for the well dressed, white missionaries to represent Christ and proclaim the gospel in the community. Rather, pastors, teachers, and workers should be grown from within the community, making the work more sustainable and helping to contextualise the message.
This is exactly what I want to see in Niddrie in years to come. Young people whose lives have been transformed by the power of the gospel, whose lives are now so radically different under the Lordship of Christ that their neighbours, family and friends in the community can’t help but take notice. What a bold witness to God’s mercy and grace that would be!!
How do we grow indigenous leaders? What’s the plan for the youth team in Niddrie?
Being a believer is a prerequisite to any leadership position in Niddrie Community Church – rightly so! If we are to grow youth leaders in Niddrie, there first needs to be evidence of spiritual renewal (conviction of sin, confession of faith, submission to the Lordship of Christ, growth in Christ-likeness, etc). So this is another reason (not that we need any more) for our focus on evangelism in the youth work of the church. We need our young people to be saved!
Along with that, we want to be looking out for leadership potential, but more than that we should be on the look out for what God is doing in the lives of young people in the community, listening to the questions they’re asking and the kinds of conversations that keep coming up with them.
Over the past week or so I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with one of the older young lads in the community. He’s developed over the years, from gang confrontations with church members on the steps of the church a few years ago when I first joined the team, to having dinner at my flat with my wife and I (twice in 1 week). There have been umpteen gospel conversations and questions lately, including ‘what does it take to work for the church?’ and ‘what is a Christian?’ It’s been really interesting and encouraging for me, and others, to see this relationship develop. I have no idea what God will do, or where this relationship will go, but I’m content for the time being to spend time with this lad, take the opportunities I’m given and see what God does with it. Pray for him!
In the meantime, the youth work team consists of Ellis and myself. (Andrew) Ellis is as close to an indigenous youth worker as I can get so far. Although he didn’t actually grow up in Niddrie, he grew up in a very similar estate in Southend, Essex. With crime and drugs as his background, his experience and struggles are very relatable to people in the community, and this really shows in the way he interacts with people. The video below is an extract of the Niddrie Showcase video I put together a few weeks back featuring Ellis, his wife Caroline, and another girl from the community called Charlene.
For more information about Ellis, including his testimony, please click here.
Ellis has no formal qualifications in youth work, but he has great potential and a heart for the work, so we work with that. One afternoon each week we meet specifically to discuss youth work related matters. We have been studying a chapter each week of a youth work book, and Ellis has also participated in the general ministry team training (Porterbrook and CCEF). He gets experience of a broad range of youth work and other ministry work.
So discipleship, training and careful supervision will be a very important part of any indigenous leadership training programme, and by no means am I being naive about the rough road ahead. As a team, our experiences with Ellis have been very trying at times (he doesn’t mind me telling you that), but this is what happens when you’re building up Christian leaders from scratch.