One of the challenges in starting a youth ministry is engaging with young people who are not yet part of a church family. Scripture Union has a statistic that 95% of young people have no contact with the Church. So how do we introduce young people to church and, more importantly, to Jesus?  

“Do not forget to do good and to share with others”. Hebrews 13:16.

Thrive is partnering with Christians from local churches including Leamington Baptist Church to reach out to young people in their communities simply by giving out refreshments as a gift to those who pass their church front doors as they walk home from school. ‘Giveaways’ have created an opportunity to connect and engage, to share something of the love of God, and slowly to build meaningful conversations with local young people. Giveaways aim to build relationships with young people in the local area who up until now have had little to no contact with the church and gives them the opportunity to experience church in a public area. The encouragement is seeing young people return and having conversations about Jesus with church volunteers. It is from this connection that hopefully further youth ministry can be built upon and provides an opportunity for young people to interact and to encounter church in a unique and special way.

Leamington Spa Baptist Church have been holding Giveaways regularly over the past year. During the cold winter months members of the church have been generously giving hot chocolate (with cream and marshmallows!) to young people on the way home from school, not only making great contacts but also having a good time whilst doing it. And in the summertime, they’ve been giving away ice creams and providing new, regular contact with the same young people week by week. On a regular basis, young people walking past for the first time ask; “why are you doing this?” which generates a great opportunity to share the generosity of God. Young people who regularly walk past, now look forward to knowing that there is a hot chocolate and a smiling face asking how their day has been as they make their way home. More and more of the church have been getting involved and the wider church family are regularly praying for this ministry. It really has been a joy for Thrive to see the church serve the young people of Leamington in this way.

Val Kennedy, one of the church members from Leamington Baptist Church has been particularly inspired by the Giveaways and said “Our small team of volunteers has been greatly encouraged over the past year by the number of young people (and a few adults) returning to greet us and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate (or ice creams in the summer!). Our clientele keeps increasing and it’s lovely to be able to tell them the reason why we are doing this.”

It is so encouraging that the giveaways are growing in drawing people in not just as a one-off event but as a regular occurrence. Giveaways have been a way for the church to actively engage with the generation of the now. The regularity of the giveaway provides relationships building and the opportunity for young people to chat and ask questions about faith. It is exciting what is happening in our local area!