*** DEBUG END ***

Mission within borders

11 January 2019

Taking a gap year does not necessarily mean travelling to a distant country. Johanna Derry looks at UK-based programmes

Last year’s Challenge UK team at Eb Coll Feb 2018

Last year’s Challenge UK team at Eb Coll Feb 2018

Oddments Theatre Company

ODDMENTS is a touring theatre company that offers four ten-month internships with the company, working to spread the gospel through theatre. The internship includes taking part in two productions touring around the UK: a 50-minute children’s production for schools (currently an abbreviated version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress) and a professional-standard play for churches (currently Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place). The company also tours an hour-long set of skits to inmates in prisons.

When not on tour, interns are either in rehearsal, or working in the office understanding how the finance, advertising, customer service, and administrative aspects of the company work.

Who: Applicants aged 18 to 30; older applicants may be accepted.

When and where: Oddments is based in Yeovil, Somerset, and the course runs full-time for ten months.

Cost: £1800 for UK-based applicants; £2200 for international applicants; including food, accommodation with a family, and all costs associated with working with Oddments.

Contact: www.oddments-theatre.co.uk or email info@oddments-theatre.co.uk.

Youth for Christ

YOUTH for Christ (YFC) says that it is committed to seeing young people’s lives changed by Jesus. Its gap-year programme, “The Year Out”, seeks to develop leaders who will have an impact on the lives of young people in the UK. There are eight streams — youth work, media, innovation, homegrown (working in your area), music, worship, dance, and the evangelism academy — to appeal to a range of skills and interests.

YFC centres are varied in their work; so participants can choose to base themselves at a centre that is most relevant to their interest and experience. But those who opt to be part of the innovation, music or dance teams tour for part of the year, and are based together in Birmingham.

Who: Those aged 17 to 25 who are keen to explore their gifts and talents and go deeper in their relationship with God, and who wish to spread the Christian faith to other people in the UK.

When and where: “The Year Out” officially starts on the first day of YFC’s Evangelism Training Conference in September, and ends after the end-of-year showcase in July. Participants are based at YFC centres in the UK; music and dance streams tour; participants in the home­grown stream are based in their own area.

Cost: Ranges from £1495 to £3100, depending on the stream, and includes all training, teaching, accommodation, and food. With every stream, participants are allocated a host home for the year.

Contact: www.yfc.co.uk/theyearout or email theyearout@yfc.co.uk.

Scargill House

Challenge Team UK

CHALLENGE Team UK is a charity that recruits, trains, and sends teams of three or four young adults to tour UK secondary schools to give an hour-long interactive presentation. Team members have chosen to save sex for marriage, and explain in an entertaining, fast-moving, and punchy way why they found that this lifestyle has many benefits.

Who: Anyone aged 18 to 25 who is involved in a church and enjoys a challenge.

When and where: Tours take place in February, March, and November each year. Challenge Team is seeking new recruits to tour full-time (Monday to Friday) from February half-term to the end of March.

Cost: All expenses are paid, and travelling costs and accommodation while touring are covered. Team members receive a small expenses allowance.

Contact: www.challengeteamuk.com or email: info@challengeteamuk.com.

Scargill House/Lee Abbey

SCARGILL HOUSE, in north Yorkshire, and Lee Abbey, in north Devon, are Christian centres hosting retreats, holidays, and conferences. Both offer the chance to live and work as part of a resident and international Christian community, whose members share a common life and offer hospitality to guests during the year.

Community members are asked to make a commitment to a series of promises, and are assigned to work in one or more teams, such as house, estate, kitchen, admin, youth and children, and pastoral. Lee Abbey has an outdoor activity centre; so there are opportunities to train as an activity instructor.

Who: Anyone aged 18-plus can apply who feels called to community living and service (families are also invited to apply). At times, vacancies are advertised on each website.

When and where: Scargill House is located near Skipton, north Yorkshire, less than a mile from the village of Kettlewell (which is featured in the film Calendar Girls), on a 90-acre estate. Its community typically numbers between 25 and 35 people.

Lee Abbey is based on a 280-acre estate on the coast of Exmoor; it includes its own stretch of beach and a tea chalet. Most people on a gap year stay from between three months to a year, although it is possible to stay for several years.

Cost: All accommodation and food are provided, as well as a monthly allowance.

Contact: scargillmovement.org or leeabbeydevon.org.uk.

Pais team

Pais Movement

THE Pais Movement is a non-denominational, international mission organisation, founded in the UK in 1992 and now running in 14 countries around the world. In partnership with churches, it offers an apprenticeship year of training, discipleship, and Bible study.

Each apprentice has a mentor, and works as part of a team in a supportive church environment. Apprentices can choose to train in youth ministry, and there is a further option to specialise in sport, music, or performing arts, or just to follow a general youth-ministry training programme. There are also options to focus on young adults (with the same specialist options) or adults. Pais also offers apprenticeship gap-year opportunities in media, personnel, finance, training, and communication.

Who: The youth ministry apprenticeship is open to anyone aged 18 or above; young adult and adult apprenticeships are open to those aged 21 or above.

When and where: Pais works to an academic year: training begins in late August and ends the following July. Apprentices serve in teams throughout the British Isles (overseas options are also available).

Cost: Free: host families provide food and accommodation, and host churches cover transport. Apprentices need money only for expenses such as clothes, toiletries, and leisure activities.

Contact: paismovement.com or email england@paismovement.com.

Equip North East

EQUIP North East seeks to provide a fun, challenging, and formative year of practical ministry experience, alongside an A-level-standard certificate in Engaging with Applied Theology, accredited by Moorlands Bible College.

Placements are customised to suit the student’s gifts and interests. Placements could include work with children, young people, UK and international students, and worship. The scheme works with several partners and supporters, including Youth for Christ, Scripture Union, the Northern Baptist Association, and churches and dioceses.

Who: Anyone aged 18 and above, particularly those considering a future in ministry or further theological training.

When and where: September through to July. Training days take place in Sunderland for two days each week, and the other three days are spent on placement in a church or Christian organisation based within a 30-45 minute radius of Sunderland.

Cost: Student cost is £1000 (additional £1000 needed if accommodation is required).

Contact: www.equipnortheast.com or info@equipnortheast.com.

YFC’s The Year Out

Abernethy Trust

GAP-YEAR partners join staff members at Abernethy, in Scotland, to offer outdoor residential holidays (largely aimed at children and young people) across four adventure centres and a bunkhouse. The aim is to help young people discover more about themselves, about others, and about God.

Abernethy offers a House and Kitchen gap year (activities may include taking school bookings, serving food, cleaning rooms) or a Maintenance gap year (possible activities include DIY, testing fire alarms, cutting the grass).

Both years offer spiritual and practical development, playing an active part within the life of a church, and experience of living as part of a residential Christian community.

Who: College or university leavers aged 17 or above, or those looking for a stepping stone to the outdoor-pursuits industry (some training courses are available).

When and where: A year, starting in August, based at one of four centres: Ardeonaig, Ardgour, Barcaple, or Nethybridge, in Scotland.

Cost: Gap-year partners receive a small monthly salary, 30 days paid annual leave, and full-board single accommodation. They also have use of centre facilities.

Contact: www.abernethy.org.uk/join-our-team or email recruitment@abernethy.org.uk.


INTERSERVE is an international, non-denominational Christian mission organisation which has been working in South Asia and the Arab world for 160 years.

Although known for overseas placements, Interserve offers a year working with people from Asia and the Arab world in immigrant communities in the UK. A short-term mission programme, “On Track”, offers opportunities including teaching, medical work, working with refugees, and supporting destitute or trafficked women.

Who: 18 or above, including those wanting a career break.

When and where: Placements are arranged person by person, depending on the specific areas of interest.

Cost: Varies according to placement.

Contact: www.interserve.org.uk or email OnTrack@Interserve.org.uk.

Some of last year’s trainee instructors at Abernethy

Yorkshire Camps

YORKSHIRE Camps run year-round gospel-centred residential holidays for children aged seven to 18. From their base in the Yorkshire Dales, they offer a year-long Training Team experience providing opportunities to plan and run the camps, and to take charge of games, activities, and Bible studies. There is some house and grounds maintenance to be done, as well as a Bible-college training course, and work in schools.

Who: Committed Christians age 18-25 who seek to reach out to young people.

When and where: Placements from three months to a year, living and working at Netherside Hall, Threshfield, North Yorkshire.

Cost: Voluntary contributions of up to £2500 for the full year.

Contact: www.yorkshirecamps.org.uk or email team@yorkshirecamps.org.uk.

Time for God

TIME for God (TfG) has been offering volunteering opportunities since the mid-1960s, and is one of the longest-established ecumenical Christian volunteering organisations in the UK.

By working in partnership with churches and Christian organisations of various traditions, worldwide, and with other European and international voluntary service organisations, each year TfG hosts 100-plus volunteers in the UK.

TfG placements are all unique, and cover a broad spectrum (including churches, hostels, and youth-activity centres, and working with the elderly). TfG provides training throughout the year and support through volunteer conferences, placement visits, and regular contact.

Who: Anyone 18 or above who is committed to serving for 12 months in a UK community, living simply.

When and where: Applicants can opt to start in September or January. Time for God UK placements are mainly in England.

Cost: Costs are currently being revised; full information will be available on the website from February.

Contact: www.timeforgod.org or email office@timeforgod.org.

Yorkshire camps


CHILD Evangelism Fellowship is an international organisation working in more than 200 countries, whose aims are to evangelise and make disciples of children and young people and then establish them in a local church. It provides opportunities to join teams involved in summer outreach in the UK, or on an intern programme of up to four months.

Who: 14 to 30-plus.

When and where: Activities can last from five days to four months, such as spending a week on a residential camp across locations in Ireland, or joining a summer outreach in a city and learning first-hand from trained CEF workers and volunteers.

Cost: Varies. Support and training are provided.

Contact: www.cefbritain.org or email info@cefbritain.org.

Diocesan schemes

MANY dioceses offer those taking a gap year the chance to learn about what it’s like to be in ministry, through the Church of England’s Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES). Some dioceses also offer their own gap-year experiences. Exeter diocese has set up the St Peter’s Foundation, a residential community whose members share a common life of prayer, hospitality, and service for a year, supervised by a team from the parish and diocese, exploring the opportunities of growing closer to God in the community. Leicester diocese has just launched The Community of the Tree of Life, a new monastic community and house of prayer led by the Bishop of Leicester, providing a gap-year experience focused on prayer, pilgrimage and personal study, mission and social action.

Who: Age-ranges vary from scheme to scheme.

When and where: Yearlong placements in a parish or diocesan centre.

Cost: Many dioceses offer accom­modation through a congregation or residential community, and costs vary.

Contact: www.walktheextramile.org; or email daniel@seasidebenefice.org; www.leicestertreeoflife.org.

For more opportunities, visit year4god.com.

Still want to go overseas? Christine Miles reports 


USPG runs Journey With Us for volunteers from Great Britain and Ireland to experience the life and mission of partner churches in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Placements, typically for three to 12 months, and are also open to those looking to take a career break. Their Expanding Hori­zons programme facilitates place­ments for clergy, ordinands, and church workers from one to six months in duration.



The Church Mission Society offers international gap-year trips, short-term and long-term mission place­ments for those aged 18+.


Time for God

Time for God also connects vol­unteers with churches and Christian organisations in the UK and over­seas, mostly, but not exclusively, for 18-30s.



Crosslinks mission society works across the Anglican Com­munion. It offers short-term mis­sion oppor­tuni­ties for gap-year students, as well as individuals, couples, and churches, to work with church and mission partners overseas. Cross­links are recruiting for gap-year team members for 2019/20 trips to The Gambia and South Africa.


Latin Link

Latin Link sends teams on short-term mission trips to churches and Christian organisations in Latin America through its Step pro­gramme (two weeks to four months). It can also arrange gap-year placements under its Stride programme.



Operation Mobilisation is a Chris­tian mission movement that works in more than 110 countries. It offers opportunities for short-term mis­sion (one week to one year and longer) overseas, or three-month mission trips based on its ship Logos Hope.



Tearfund offers placements lasting from two weeks to three months in countries alongside Tearfund part­ners and local churches.


Teach Beyond

Teach Beyond seek to provide transformational education experi­ences around the world — be it education in the slums of Addis Adaba, or English as a foreign language classes in institutions where relationships are also seen as mission opportunities. Year-long opportunities are available to those aged 21+.


For more opportunities, see:

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)