Good News Stories

This page is for all the good news stories out there worth sharing. Please do send us stories and photos of the things that you are doing (big or small) in your local church or synod, and let’s celebrate together how God is at work within our children and young people throughout the United Reformed Church.

Pilots group growth

In Nairn the Pilots company very nearly folded in 2017, not because of lack of leaders but lack of Pilots. The leaders, however, all agreed that even with only four they should continue as each individual enjoyed the Pilots message for different reasons.

After the Summer break out of nowhere came twelve youngsters all wanting to become Pilots! This situation required the leaders to work on a whole new approach as most of the youngsters who came had no church background.

“As Pilots Captain, I was unsure as to how much or how little we could or should teach. We stuck with the Pilots Prayer, The Pilots Promise and the Lords Prayer and it was apparent that each youngster had no problem with any of the content and were eager to learn.

Consequently, I organised our enrolment, and we invited parents, grandparents and family friends. My faith in human nature and family commitment took a massive boost when every child was represented by at least one family member and in some cases two or three.

We enrolled 13 Pilots between 5 and 11 years of age on the day, and gained three extra adult helpers.” Mick Smerdon, Nairn URC Pilots Captain and RPO for Scotland.

Bouncy daysContent

In their Under 11s review paperwork, the children of Temple URC were incredibly enthusiastic about Bouncy Days and we just had to find out more. Anne Percival, their youth elder, was keen to tell us about this rather unusual outreach.

"Bouncy Days came about due to the generosity of a few of our younger church families who own a bouncy castle business (BounceAway South-East). They themselves came up with the idea of holding these bouncy days (when out entire site – including the church building! – is set up with bouncy castles, assault courses, soft play etc.) initially as a fundraising opportunity but also an outreach to local families.

"They have been a great success and we will continue them as long as we are able! Children have joined our Brigades, Junior Church or Toddler group after attending a bouncy day so all in all they have proved to be a great way to reach families who wouldn’t usually enter the building! Volunteers are always on hand to talk to those who attend, hot food is served along with drinks and lots of cake, and much fun is had by all. In fact, some adults without any young children have been coming along just for tea, cake and a chat which is something we didn’t anticipate!

"The days are hard work and we rely heavily on volunteers but, as I have already said, we hope to continue with them as long as we can."

Emmanuel church 1                  Emmanuel church 2

Some years ago now Gerard Hughes wrote his book God of Surprises in which he reflected on the inner spiritual journey in which Christians are all engaged. The book focuses on those who have a love/hate relationship with the Church to which they belong or once belonged. It appears nothing much has changed; the pressures have probably increased greatly, and anxiety levels about the very future of the church are at breaking point.

I have witnessed this on many occasions as I have visited churches in my area in Swindon and Wiltshire, and one of the greatest areas of concern has been the inability of local congregations to attract the younger generation. All that many congregations have now are the memories of the days when they could hardly cope with the numbers of young children in their church.

The question is – are there other possibilities to explore when it comes to ministering to young people?

Read more: God of Scouting Surprises: an unexpected call to Emmanuel Church

Pilgrim front resizedPilgrim URC received this e-mail last year from one of the School Parent Advisors they work with: 
“Finally, I have been able to take the children shoe shopping this week. The receipts are working their way to you via Royal Mail. Please can you pass on our sincerest thanks to the Elders and the Committee. I was truly touched whilst shopping with the children, many had not visited Clarks before, they were crazy over the gadgets that measured their feet, and the fact that they could choose a style of shoe and then model them!
I then couldn't resist a drink and Danish pastry treat for them, they were so excited and genuinely enjoyed the trip.
It is the simplest of things that have ensured some of our children have the correct footwear on the next stage of their education.”

Would your church like to impact young lives in a similar way? Read on to see how this got started.

Read more: Pilgrim URC School Uniform Grant Scheme

Stuart Radcliffe

When Dan Morrell asked me to be Chaplain to Youth Executive and Youth Assembly I was honoured, and yet at the same time I was a little fearful if I’m honest.

I was at a point in my ministry where I had reached a crossroads. From where I am now, I recognise that it was time to move on. I had, however, perhaps become a little comfortable where I was and was reluctant to take risks. Working with the young people of the United Reformed Church soon put paid to that. Far from needing to be fearful, I entered into a warm and generous community where I was instantly welcomed and also encouraged. I was taken somewhat by surprise as I had expected that to be my job, and yet was reminded that as well as offering ministry we need to be ready to accept it, even when it comes from places you don’t expect.

My time as chaplain was for me transformational. It gave me enormous hope for the church. I was privileged to work with a group of people who believed that the Gospel could transform lives. It gave me back my belief and my passion to take the risks needed to see that happen. It led me to apply for my new role as Missional Discipleship Enabler for Mersey Synod, from where I hope that I can encourage others to live lives that also offer the hope of the Gospel.

So, I encourage you, make friends with the young people of your churches, don’t think of them as the church of tomorrow but instead I beg you recognise the ministry they exercise today and receive the gifts that they have to offer.