Last week 200 young people gathered TOGETHER from across the Black Country to worship & pray together, this regional evening was a roaring success with young people pouring themselves out for Jesus and coming forward for prayer. The sense of the spirit was tangible. We’re sure that investing in young people will feed, grow and change the church in our region.
But what’s was the point? Does gathering bear fruit?
We did a similar event in April, and we heard feedback so good, so powerful, we made it the focus our of a series of new article about what God is doing in our region.
Disconnected from the vibrant possibilities of a supernatural encounter with God, a small group of unsuspecting young people turned up for a prayer and worship evening . . . No-one could have ever dreamt what would happen next.
As more than 200 gathered in the event co-hosted by Love Black Country, 24-7 Prayer Youth and The Message Trust, “the Spirit of God began to walk over the lives” of those gathered in this multi-denominational meeting.
Among the crowd at Life Central Church, Halesowen, nine people aged 15 to 21, had been encouraged to attend by Jo Redding, a children’s and families’ enabler from St Philip’s CofE, Bradmore.
For three years a youth worker had been holding meetings every Sunday evening at her church with a core group of hugely different young adults. The enduring theme: Discipleship.
A mum of three, Jo, explained some had no church background, not all worshipped at her church, others understood what Love Black Country was doing with its ‘Gather’ programme, while the remainder had bought into some Soul Survivor experiences.
“I totally get the Next Gen push. I was working on the door at the prayer gathering and I was pushing for them to get tickets. I just wanted them to come.”
“They were all coming, then not coming – you know what it’s like – but, eventually the oldest in the group booked the tickets,” said Jo.
“We never really understand what we sow into the kingdom of God. The regular discipleship talks and me desperately wanting them, urging them to connect with this event. I didn’t know what to expect and neither did they,” added Jo.
Following a time of worship, 24-7 prayer director Josh Green shared about being real and remaining authentic.
“About 200 were there, young people and their leaders all on their knees. Fear, anxiety, depression, everything you could imagine were prayed for and our group all went out for prayer.
On leaving that Friday night in April, Jo recalled no-one said anything. But the following Sunday, the transformation in these people was clearly apparent and they approached their vicar, the Rev Peter Smith, to ask if they could take the Pentecost Service.
“An incredibly gracious leader, he agreed,” recalled Jo. “We learned that some played instruments, but they’d never played together as a band. It was all very raw, but these young people had found a new, vibrant faith. As they rehearsed together sorting songs they could play, they prayed and were full of joy. Some began to give words of prophecy, there was no sense of holding back, no shame – someone had a gift of interpretation.”
Some 70 people turned up for the Pentecost Service. In the congregation was a man who had been unable to attend church for weeks after injuring tendons in his leg.
“As soon as these young adults started to pray, you could sense God. The guy with the injury said his leg began to tingle and burn. He left the meeting free of pain.”
“It’s all very raw, not polished, not perfect by any means. But the culture of the whole church has changed. It’s catching. These youngsters are zealous for more of God. And there’s not any of ‘them and us’. They are seen as the church, no less and are treated as equals.
“So much of social media content is not real and there’s a persistent hunger with this group for a reality. Being able to be part of a divine plan to see lives transformed and liberated in this way is amazing,” added Jo.
These people are now leading the way for younger church members as the Holy Spirit’s work filters through to the Sunday School and sister church, St Joseph’s, Merry Hill. They are alive to the Holy Spirit and fearlessly are moving in the gifts spoken of in Acts.
“I know of no better way of promoting the next prayer and worship movement than to share their story. What we have done is opened up a space for them to have more expectation of God. They knew something of religion; now they know Jesus,” added Jo.
Love Black Country’s Tim Fellows concluded: “It was a very, very good evening and one that has changed the culture of Jo’s church. The spirit of God began to walk over the lives of young people. Coming together, being one together and finding a unity across our varied church expressions, releases something powerful in the Kingdom.”
We’re only really just getting started on working with the next generation, following on from the great foundational work led by Deb Chamberlain. Love Black Country is a team made up of various teams (like the Nest Gen team.) and together we sense a move of God creating momentum, and a movement of His people coming together in unity in our area, producing something unlike what we’ve seen before. Let’s see what unfolds……
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