12 October 2023
Almost 1,300 young people aged 4-23 years old, 400 adults who accompanied them and 220 wonderful volunteers, all from across the Connexion, came together in celebration, worship and fellowship at this year’s 3Generate, the Methodist Children and Youth Assembly. 3Generate 2023 took place at the NEC, Birmingham from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 October with a record attendance that was a 25 percent increase over last year.
3Generate is a unique space for children and young people to develop their faith and to have their voices heard for what they want the Church and society to be like. At 3Generate young people are invited to listen to God, each other and the world, while being supported to discern what they hear. They are encouraged to take action, both at the event and when they return home, on their own, with their peers and with the help of adults.
3Generate is on an impressive scale, filling four of the giant halls at the NEC with activities, performances, worship and on-site accommodation with over 900 tents pitched inside the venue for the young people and their leaders.
Among the performers were SK Shlomo, an acclaimed beatboxer and celebrated theatre performer who gave a show followed by a workshop. Children were also given the chance to showcase their own talents with 3Gen Celebrates, an opportunity to get on stage and share their gifts of music and singing.
In the Globe, discussions were held about faith in a world perspective. The Revd David Hardman called in from the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem and was able to update everyone on the developing situation there. A group of young people from the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas held conversations about food and climate justice.
In the Town Hall and throughout the event, the Youth Reps listened to the young people, hosting discussions and debates to help everyone discern what God is saying on matters of faith and the world.
This year’s 3Generate also had a Health & Wellbeing Centre, a theater, a chapel and a Tech Hub featuring karaoke worship and a digital treasure hunt using augmented and virtual reality. There was the Hope & Anchor venue and also The Wilderness, a dedicated spiritual space, to ask questions about faith, seek wisdom and discernment. In the Arts Centre, the Methodist Modern Art Collection committee operated an immersive art installation based on Eularia Clarke’s painting, The Five Thousand.
The Well offered a space for the youth leaders to take a little time out and come together for support, worship and workshops.
The whole weekend’s programme was available via an “app” for people to use on their phone. To ensure that the event was as accessible as possible, this included advice about noise levels during different activities alongside practical information regarding showers, accommodation and where to find support.
Suzanne Butler, a contributor to the event with Fischy Music, said of her experience at 3Generate, “We really enjoyed being part of it, and are keen to keep up the connection. What a feat of organisation, with so much creativity, inclusion and spiritual thoughtfulness in evidence.”
Revd Nick Moxon attended with a group from Portishead Methodist Church and Redcliffe Bay Methodist Church in North Somerset. He said, “I think it's just amazing. It has given our young people a sense of being part of something bigger. They come and they think, wow, there's 1300 young Methodists here, and that gives their confidence as Christians such a boost.”
The Methodist Youth President, Tom Hart, commented, “3Generate feels really special, you can see the way that the young people are interacting with the activities and each other, growing in fellowship.”
“The event has developed year upon year as 3Generate has been refined blending faith and fun, exploring new ways of worship. The “Picnic in the park” worship was based on feeding the 5000, there was the Metal Methodist whose worship rocked and Lego Church, which was especially popular with the 4 to 7 year olds.”
Jude Levermore, Head of Mission, said, “3Generate is so important to the life of the Church. From across the Connexion, young people come with their leaders and sometimes with their parents, from rural and urban churches, and groups such as the Boys and Girls Brigades.
“The young people learn from each other and from the carefully curated content of the event, but importantly the Church learns from them. You could sense God’s spirit moving throughout the weekend, in the conversations that people had, in the worship and in the fun that you saw expressed on everyone’s faces.
“We have people who attended 3Generate in the years past who are now our youth leaders and even some who are ordained. 3Generate is life changing.”
See pictures from 3Generate below