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New association offers support to lay workers and volunteers in youth and children’s ministries

05 July 2022

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A NEW association, Paraklesis, has been launched to support lay people who work in youth, children’s, and family ministry.

The association, launched on Monday, is led by Ali Campbell, who runs The Resource, a youth- and children’s-ministry consultancy, and is supported by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, who chairs the trustees of the charity My Ministry. Paraklesis is the charity’s first project.

In 2019, Bishop Snow commissioned a survey of youth and children’s workers, which received more than 630 responses (News, 19 September 2019). Many respondents said that they lacked training and qualifications, as well as adequate line management and mentoring.

Mr Campbell said on Monday that 74 per cent of respondents had said that they wished to remain in youth and children’s ministry until they retired, which prompted the question: “What does it look like for there to be a sustainable vocational pathway?”

He continued: “Paraklesis, taken from the Greek, really just means to be alongside, to journey with, to be an advocate for. It’s where we get “Paraclete”, that sense of the Holy Spirit being the Comforter, and the one who is alongside us. So that’s why the name is what it is, because we want that to be what the organisation does.”

Membership of Paraklesis is open to children’s, youth, and family ministers, whether salaried (full-time or part-time) or “lead volunteers” in their church. The cost for full-time ministers is £50 a year, for part-time ministers £25 a year, and membership is free for those who are studying for an academic qualification in youth, children’s, and families ministry and who have at least one year of training to come.

Benefits of membership, the Paraklesis website says, include a free mentoring session each year from an experienced practitioner; access to discounts on resources; and access to recommended providers of support services for those experiencing difficulties in the work place, such as stress, breakdown of relationships, or discrimination. The website also features a forum where members can discuss ministry.

Churches can join as members for £100 a year. In return, they will be asked to sign up to “a benchmark charter which will put in place values, structure and support enabling children’s, youth and families ministry to flourish”, and “a suite of ‘good practice’ resources that will help churches concerned about mentoring, line management, supervision and support for their children’s, youth and families ministers”.

Mr Campbell said that he hoped that Paraklesis would “create a kind of atmosphere, an environment where people feel they can thrive in ministry”.

paraklesis.org.uk

Listen to an interview with Ali Campbell on the Church Times podcast.

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