As an Urban Expression team in Eccles, we have always felt it important to include our children, now teenagers, in discussions about our faith and decisions related to how we live out our faith. Community meals are anything but quiet as this is the place, gathered around bread and wine, where many lively discussions have taken place. So we were delighted when last summer, Imogen McBeath, now 13, asked to be baptised.
But it did cause us to ask some questions. Our teenagers and young people have not grown up in a traditional church with Sunday school and youth groups. They have not grown up with a systematic understanding of Christian doctrine or using the usual church jargon. What they have grown up with is an ability to question and to challenge. And, we’ve realized, they have grown up with a strong sense of living out the values of Urban Expression particularly of relationship and creativity.
And so we quickly decided that we would need a different approach to baptismal classes; it needed to make few assumptions about someone’s experience of faith and church but rather to allow these to be explored in an open ended and creative way. It needed not to focus so much on doctrinal beliefs wrapped up in traditional church jargon but rather to be based primarily on relationship with God and one another and with living out the values of following Jesus.
What we offer here is a reflective journey aimed predominantly at teenagers and young adults who come from a church planting, missional church or new expressions context and is also suitable for adults who have a non churched background or those who are wanting to step outside of a traditional church context.
Angie Tunstall, UE Eccles