With 100 days to go, London 2012 Games motto, ‘Inspiring a Generation’ was announced. I’d love to highlight some ways we’re making it easy for our next generation to get involved with mission during the Olympics, from youth volunteering to phone apps.
A generation of leaders
Today I spoke to St Mellitus college about opportunities for mission – it’s exciting to be getting the next generation of clergy, youth workers and lay-leaders ready for the summer. With projects to coordinate around venues and stations, and team leaders needed for volunteers, it’s great to have them involved.
Tomorrow’s ‘London Calling’ event at St Paul’s Cathedral will bring over two thousand young Christians together, to be encouraged and released for mission and service. Many of these young people are already coordinating events in their own parishes during the summer, and others will be encouraged to volunteer at projects across the diocese – staffing youth cafes, helping at community festivals, or keeping churches open to offer hospitality. I’m particularly looking forward to meeting Anne Wafula Strike, a Kenyan Paralympian with an encouraging testimony to share.
If you haven’t signed up yet, or know someone you could invite, visit www.the2012.org.uk for more details.
Finding the missing 99
With little over 1% of Generation Y attending church, it’s crucial that it’s really easy for 13-35s to participate in mission, and that events are presented in a way that makes it easy for their peers to come along. Social media, when used well, can help us to reach the ‘facebook generation’.
I’m tweeting now @dol_olympics – after just a week I’m seeing how this faciliatates collaboration between churches and charities. Already the2012′s facebook page has provided a forum for young people to get to know each other and share ideas - in May I’ll be using a similar page to link up groups of volunteers with parishes who need them. If you’re running an event, it’s worth making an event profile on facebook – for some young adults this will make it far easier for them to invite the friends they may not often see.
Apps and Maps
Directing visitors to our churches can be tricky, especially if they’ve only just landed in the UK. More than Gold are developing a phone app, so mission teams at stations can direct visitors to events they might like to go to. To get your event or open church onto this app, it needs to be registered with me as soon as you know the details. To do this, please download and fill in this Plans for Olympics, and send it to me (Email: elizabeth.harrison [at] london.anglican.org)with ‘Mapping’ in the subject line. More than Gold will do the rest.
To safeguard our young people, we’ll be advertising opportunities for under 18s separately, and encouraging youth groups to volunteer together. I’d love for us to be able to reach out to visiting teenagers with groups of Christian young people, as peer-to-peer friendship is a great form of witness. During the Games, youth groups will be getting involved in running youth cafes, at community festivals, and other events organised by local churches. If your volunteering opportunities would suit a bunch of under 18s, get in touch (Email: elizabeth.harrison [at] london.anglican.org).
Although some of these media will be out of your comfort zone, and integrating new volunteers into an established group may have its tensions, I hope some of these suggestions will help you to inspire a generation through the Olympics.