Sam and Lauren job share as the Children & Families & Youth Worker for St Mary’s in Frinton-on-Sea. Here Sam shares a bit of their story…
Lauren and I moved down to Frinton-on-Sea about 5 years ago from Scotland where I was an Outdoors Instructor at Abernethy Christian Outdoors Centre. I love the outdoors and have a background in carpentry and joinery, so I always try to find a way to bring those skills to what we do!
Lauren always said she’d never live in England as she loves Scotland too much. But God had other ideas. We’re settled here with our two daughters and so far our job share is going well!
The last year has been a really hard one. With restrictions being imposed, then lifted, and imposed again, the number of people engaging with us and what we’ve been doing has fluctuated so significantly.
But we’re ready for the comeback and we’re not giving up!
We have a summer programme planned for families and we just intend to remain consistent, being there for families, children and young people as they need – whether that’s some or many.
We’re incredibly fortunate to live surrounded by wild open spaces where we can run our ‘Afternoon Family Adventure’. On a Sunday afternoon, we run outdoor activities, bushcraft, storytime and testimonies with local families. It is just such a great way to Connect with people and, as they feel able to, invite them to spaces we have in church for them to Explore Jesus more.
Working for the church, we of course have a focus on the young people that call our church ‘home’. Through the last year or so, we began running a 9:30am youth service to keep them engaged and in relationship with us, at a time when they needed support.
Covid may have restricted a lot, but it hasn’t restricted relationships from developing and growing. The plan coming out of restrictions is that we will keep on going! That we’ll do a youth service, then the youth will stay on to serve in the main service. Over the years, it’s been beautiful to see that as we’ve invested in the young people around us, they’ve in turn committed to us as a church family and each other. Their humility and desire to grow in their faith is so encouraging to us as leaders.
So, what is it about working with children and young people that makes you both come alive?
I recently had a boy come up to me after a session and he was so excited that we’d done something different. He said ‘phew – I don’t like colouring!’. For me, that’s what it is about. It’s how to bring the fun factor. I love the challenge of bringing a child to experience that ‘Eureka!’ moment, where they go ‘wow, that impacts me!’
For Lauren, she just loves seeing them enjoy church without realising that’s what they’re doing! She’s great at building relationships with all of the children and young people we work with but watching them grow together in their faith is amazing. Seeing our youth be vulnerable with each other and ask each other for specific prayer requests is just incredible.
Could you be a Faith Guide?
The Revealing Jesus mission framework is there to help make mission possible for you and your church as you reach children and young people with the good news of Jesus!
Our research and experience show us that most people through the same stages as they become and grow as a Christian: Connect, Explore, Respond and Grow.
We’re not expecting children and young people to navigate this faith journey on their own and that’s where Faith Guides like Sam come in!
You don't need to be a trained children's or youth worker, although you might be, you just need to be mission-minded and with a heart to take on this much-needed role.