Amount given: £53,300 over 2 years (funding from 2019 – 2021)
This application was towards the salary costs of a Youth and Digital Pastor to develop mission and ministry to young people and to develop a digital presence to reach local young people through social media. The application was made under our Reaching out to the unchurched – especially young people and young families – by nurturing their spiritual interest and well-being priority for our Christian Projects grant programme.
Christine Muskett, Christian Grants Programme Manager
St John’s Church Blackpool is in an area of high unemployment, poverty and homelessness. In 2018 a new Mission and Growth Plan was agreed, with five very clear objectives which are the focus of all the church’s activity, and the first year saw an 18% growth in attendance. The role of Youth and Digital Pastor is a key member of the team seeking to reach young people and nurture their spiritual interest and attract them into the life of the worshipping community.
We were attracted to fund the post of Youth and Digital Pastor as it demonstrates creative ways of developing mission and ministry to young people, using the ‘mission field’ of social media and outreach activities on the beach and other public spaces. There is also more traditional youth work within the role, including schools work and supporting young people’s faith journeys in culturally sensitive expressions of worship. We are encouraging the church to capture learning and experience from their focus on digital media, to share with other churches.
Find out more about the work of St John’s Church Blackpool
Rev Steve Haskett, Vicar
St John’s is a town centre parish church, located within what is England’s 7th most deprived neighbourhood. Life for young people in Blackpool is hard, with all sorts of challenges facing them. We believe passionately that we have a message of hope to share with those who have none and we want to reach young people in our area with that message, as well as support them practically.
In October 2019 we recruited Eden as the ‘Youth and Digital Pastor’. Eden has been working hard over the last 6 months to develop our social media reach. We now have 2 Facebook pages, an Instagram account which is dedicated as an online youth group, and a YouTube account. Little did we know how crucial these things would be to our ministry just a few months later! Eden has also developed a young people’s group within Sunday worship and we now have 7 young people that regularly attend. Recently this group even led a Sunday service!
Eden has also developed a joint youth group which meets monthly, partnering with 2 other churches and bringing all our young people together in a larger setting. Plans were imminent pre-coronavirus to launch a midweek youth group of our own at St John’s as well. As soon as we are able, that will be up and running. The development of a volunteer team is also integral to these plans and Eden is overseeing this. Eden has also supported the young people as they face challenges with issues like bullying and bereavement.
‘I enjoy the youth groups you make up for us and, as we are in quarantine, I love the church/groups online plus everything you make and design.’