Martin's Memorial Church - breaking barriers
Published on 5 January 2018
In this month's Our Church we hear from Martin's Memorial Church, Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, and find out how over the last decade they have worked hard to connect with young people.
A big burden on the hearts of Martin's Memorial leadership over the last 10 years has been how we effectively engage with the younger generation in our community that sadly statistics show are largely not involved in church life. We believe the message of the gospel is relevant to young people and that they can thrive in being part of a community that nurtures and challenges them on how they choose to live their lives. However they are highly unlikely to decide one morning to venture up the often intimidating church steps and enter through the large austere doors.
The Shed Project
We have not been content to sit back and wait for young people to come to us as we know that simply does not work. In fact that doesn't work with any facet of our community. That is the reason behind the church stepping out in faith to create a purposeful outreach facility, The Shed, to serve and bless our community in any way we can.
Engaging with the youth in our locality is a main priority of The Shed's vision, and since its inception we have built a good foundation of clubs and drop-ins that young people in our community from all sorts of backgrounds actively attend. These activities have been key in forming relationships, gaining the trust of the young people so that they feel they can come to us with any issues they may be facing. We don't have an agenda other than to love our young people and create an atmosphere of fun, safety, and belonging.
Alongside our outreach work through The Shed (and in fact even before The Shed opened its doors three years ago), the church has been intentional in building up and investing in young people. We have a legacy now of having employed youth workers since 2007 and the investment has been worth it with dozens of young people having been discipled over the years through the church youth group 'Impact'; a number going on to active service within the wider church locally, nationally and even internationally.
We currently engage with over thirty in our church youth group and as a result of their request we recently started an exciting second venture called 'Deeper' on Saturday nights, attracting more than just Martin's youth for an extended time of worship and sharing together. Our young people spoke that they wanted more time together and we responded! In all our work we treat each young person with dignity, regularly asking for their views and input, and then honour them by acting on their feedback as much as possible.
Breaking New Ground
Our experience has been that God continues to expand the vision as steps of faith are taken. We created a new Schools Development Worker post in September and are building good relationships with our local primary and high schools, having already been invited to participate and run Scripture Union groups and school assemblies. We are currently exploring other exciting new ventures too. To complement our schools work we started a new drop-in for local primary seven children on Saturday afternoons which is already proving popular. The opportunities are endless and our communities are just waiting for the church to look outside its walls and reveal the heart and love of Jesus!
Interested in telling you church's story? Then get in touch for a chance to write for the 'Our Church' series.
Don't forget 2018 is Scotland's Year of Young People. Find out how you and your church can get involved.