15 March 2021
Participating in the ONE Programme
Below you can read the stories of two young people who took park in the ONE Programme that is open for applications now.
You can find out more about the ONE Programme here.
Searching for a job in 2020 wasn’t daunting solely because of the coronavirus, or the fact that it was my second ever job. Both of those were scary thoughts, yes, but my main worry was finding somewhere I could both grow and gain experience that would help me in the future. Most people on a gap year will look for work as waiters or in retail, but I knew from the beginning that my aim was to find somewhere different. I’ve learnt that ‘different’ stands out, and ‘different’ shows you things you might not find in other jobs.
I was nervous at first, as anyone is on their first day of work. I worried about meeting new people, how things would operate in such unprecedented times, and most of all, I found myself questioning whether I’d be able to do such a job, considering the leadership aspects of the position. Nevertheless, from the moment it started, I soon forgot these worries. Despite not being particularly religious, the people I’ve met on this programme have been extremely welcoming and understanding, something which made me feel not so out of place in such a community. I’ve been encouraged and motivated in this job to grow my leadership qualities, and I’ve always felt helped and guided through any troubles I’ve had. Having two sides to this job—the project and the Leadership Year—means it’s never not interesting or informative, whether you’re religious or not, and I haven’t found myself in a situation that’s repetitive or boring.
Something new this Leadership Year has of course been the online attributes, which I feel hasn’t hindered the experience at all. We’re able to organise smaller catch-ups with our peer groups, whether during work time or our own time, and participate in team games such as escape rooms that truly brings together the community aspect of this wonderful job. There are over twenty of us, and yet I’ve had the opportunity to speak with mostly everyone, which only increases the comforting feeling of involvement. Hopefully, future Leadership Years will be more in-person, and these can all be experienced together on the other side of the screen!
The job appealed to me when I first found the advertisement for many reasons, the main one being that I had made a resolution to become closer to the church. My grandparents are devout Christians, and because of that I’ve always felt a connection to God, despite the fact I wouldn’t label myself as religious, which made this job the perfect opportunity for me. Not only was it a chance to help a small, new church community grow into something bigger, it was an opening to be a part of something that, really, is so special, and gain more knowledge on Methodism and religion in general.
Since September, I have been given the opportunity to many, many things. I’ve met new people, who are all as passionate within their jobs as I am. I’ve hosted events, such as a huge multi-church Christmas event which, despite the restrictions of COVID, we made work, and will hopefully see again this Christmas. I’ve also truly expanded my creativity and used it for the good to spread the word of our church in so many wonderful ways. I’ve been able to watch first-hand how the little community I hadn’t heard of before last year is flourishing and gathering together to create something big and meaningful.
It’s the little – and yet still big – things that matter in a job like this. Watching children – and adults! – enjoy our Christmas event in such hard times, meeting church members over zoom, editing Sunday services for people to interact with, sharing in exciting sessions on Fridays with the rest of the Leadership Year participants… they are only a fraction of the opportunities I have been offered simply by applying for this job. I have grown massively in confidence, not just in myself but in my job and my life as a whole, I have built my creativity so much I recently finally felt the motivation to write and publish a book, and I have met a lot of lovely people who have all helped me find my way this year. For a part-time job, it really does affect your life full-time, in so many ways.
In general, my job as a Communications Officer for the ONE Programme has given me something to wake up to every morning and feel proud of myself for achieving, and I have full confidence that anyone who becomes an OPP will feel the same!
Pioneering in a Pandemic
Starting a new job, in a new church, in the middle of a pandemic was never meant to be on the cards. When the coronavirus pandemic hit last March, I was two weeks into a new job working in digital media at a Christian charity.
Like most young adults, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or what was possible in the COVID context. I didn’t think of myself as a pioneer, just someone who likes thinking ‘what if’ and working with others to get exciting ideas off the ground.
When I saw the advert for the Methodist Young Adults Internship, I was actually trying to get into publishing. It was one of those moments where God throws a curveball at you and something sticks! At the time, I felt quite disillusioned with Church – I was questioning its relevance, the lack of young adult leaders and a seeming reluctance to try new things. I’d been trying to get a social media ministry off the ground at a previous church and kept hitting the usual roadblocks of doing a new thing in a traditional, change-averse context. When I saw the role would involve pioneering a new ministry for 18-30s and digital communities, I realised this was a chance to build something for other young adults who felt at odds with traditional church.
The shift to online church during the pandemic has created a unique moment in time for young adults stepping into pioneer ministry and the legacy of COVID promises exciting emergent ministries. This is an opportunity for younger voices to emerge as digitally-savvy leaders putting our social media know-how and heart for meaningful community into action.
Working as an intern during the pandemic has also involved working together with church leaders across our circuit to reach more with the gospel. The sense of shared vision across our circuit team is so rewarding. Building partnerships with different churches has allowed us to bring together a team of young adults who are creating meaningful opportunities for 18-30s in Stoke-on-Trent to engage in discipleship and community together. Seeing our growing 18-30s small group challenging each other to go deeper in faith week by week is a beautiful testimony to God’s faithfulness throughout the pandemic.
The best thing about the internship is working alongside visionary leaders who aren’t afraid to challenge me to ask ‘what if’. It’s refreshing to work with a team who have a heart for encouraging lay leaders to try new things. I’ve been able to trial new ways of doing church or outreach, despite not having a fancy theology degree or years of experience.
The encouragement I’ve received from experienced pioneers is an amazing expression of their confidence in God’s faithfulness to “do a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19), and my ability to carry it out. As a pioneer intern, I’ve been given a lot of freedom to develop and launch my own initiatives, but I’ve also regularly drawn on the wisdom and experience of experienced pioneers locally and through connexional training. There aren’t many internships that would give you opportunity to explore calling through taking ownership of a brand new ministry.
Calling is often an intimidating way of talking about finding your next step. Pioneering as an intern has shown me that exploring calling as a young adult is less about a career path and more about following where God is leading you for the next few months, then the next and the next. It’s less about traditional ordained ministry and more about asking, ‘what does God have in store for me next? Where could I go from here?’
I believe that God uses all our efforts – especially the ones that feel hidden away and filled with frustration – to lay the foundation for something better than we could have imagined. He’s writing a rich and beautiful story, but sometimes we try to rush ahead and force our own endings rather than embracing the process. That’s what exploring calling looks like – stopping for long enough to piece together the story so far, even the messy bits.
Interning alongside Methodist pioneers has allowed me to ask bigger questions about church ministry and my own leadership style. It’s transformed my beliefs about what church looks like and restored my faith in seeing churches equipping a new generation of disciples to step into leadership. I’m excited about the future of young adult ministry in the Methodist Church, and you should be too!