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Where are the Young People?

Site: URC Learning Hub
Course: Conversation Starters
Book: Where are the Young People?
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Thursday, 30 May 2024, 1:27 PM

1. Please start here

Welcome to this Conversation Starter exploring Where are the Young People?

This material was developed in partnership by the United Reformed Church and Quakers in Britain.

The aim of this conversation starter is to get you thinking and talking.  How you use it is up to you.  This might be in a quaker meeting, church meeting, elders meeting or a small group setting; perhaps during worship or café church; even just to prompt you to have deeper conversations with a friend about your shared concern about the apparent absence of young people.

Each page begins with a short introduction followed by prompts to get you started.  There's some material for worship or reflection, questions to provoke deeper thinking, suggestions for first steps and community gatherings, plus links to other useful resources.

You are invited to use the material flexibly but intentionally - and please let us know how you have used it and whether you have found it helpful.  There's a link to a feedback form on page 8.

So welcome! Come along and start asking the question ‘Where are the Young People?’

2. Asking the Questions

The number of young people regularly present and part of our church and Quaker meetings has been declining for many years.  The Covid pandemic experience has sharpened this sense that young people are ‘missing’ from our faith communities.

Through this Conversation Starter, we aim to enable conversations about young people and the potential to initiate contact or rebuild relationships with them. And then to consider how each of us is mindful of young people, their and our needs for intergenerational relationships, and our role in offering and sustaining this.

How many young people do you know?  How do you know them – what is your point of connection?

You might like to start by using the Question Cards which you can find here to print out or use online

(a printed pack of these cards is available from or - just drop us an email and we'll get some out to you) 

Use these cards to help you start a conversation about young people; their lives; why and how we might seek to be a more inclusive faith community. 

Use these cards to:

  • invite people into the conversation
  • create a safe space for open sharing
  • listen to the thoughts, feelings and concerns that arise, including those unspoken
  • order the cards in importance
  • group the cards into categories
  • list possible answers
  • add further questions
  • identify next steps

(The questions could be adapted to be used about any other under-represented group.)

3. Young people we know

Here is a interactive visual resource to use with a group of adults to encourage them to reflect on their relationships with young people in any area of their life (church/meeting, family, work, neighbourhood, social activities etc).  It will help to remind them that they do have connections with young people in their lives.

The aim is to encourage them to see themselves as having something to offer young people as a person of faith and to nurture these relationships.

This is a reflective craft activity – it requires no particular crafting skills – using a slice of wood, pens, some stickers and string to create a decorative item to hang up as a reminder of their role in the life of a young person.

You'll need to download a PowerPoint presentation and Script that goes with it to make use of this resource.  

On the next page you'll find some links if you need to source materials for the craft activity to use with a group.

3.1. Resources for craft activity

If you need to source materials for a group to do this together here are examples:

Example materials to use:

4. Prayerful ways in

One way to start this journey is in prayer.  This might be as an individual or as a group wanting to engage with the question ‘where are the young people?’.  Here are a couple of resources to help and encourage you to begin your journey in prayer.

Pray like Paul

Pray like Paul draws on reflections on St Paul’s letters to a young man called Timothy in the early church and invites you to focus on praying with and for young people.

Seek, Pray, Serve

Seek, Pray, Serve offers a simple model for exploring where you already have connections, how to pray, and how to move from prayer to action.

5. Making the first move

In building any connection with other people or developing any relationship, someone has to make the first move.  Here's an activity sheet with some simple suggestions for first steps that anyone could take towards young people 

Steps towards young people

Have sight of the list of suggested first steps you could take towards young people (on the second page of the resource) and invite people to consider:

  • Which do you already do?
  • Which feel impossible to do?
  • Which feel possible to do?

The United Reformed Church has had a focus on Walking the Way, living the life of Jesus today.  Invite people to look at the list again and ask:

  • Which of these do you think Jesus did to take a step towards people?
  • Which can you try doing over the next week / month / year?

6. Putting ourselves in the shoes of young people

Use the following exercise to help people put themselves in the shoes of young people:

Plan a fun evening for at least 3 hours for you and 5 of your friends: you can only spend a maximum of £5 each, you cannot physically meet at any of your homes, you can only go to places and travel by means that under 16s are allowed to.

  • what would you do for the evening?
  • how does this compare to your last fun evening with friends?
  • what would you enjoy?
  • what would you find frustrating?
  • how would other people view you? (exercise from Tim Evans training session)

Discuss together what you learned from this.  

Going Further - Detached Youth Work

If you are interested in finding out about detached youth work then watch this training session video:

Stepping Out - A session exploring youth work outside the church building from URC CYW - YouTube

Introduction to thinking about detached youthwork by Tim Evans with interviews with three people involved in this type of engagement with young people (video of an online session).

7. Listening across the generations

It is important to find ways to bring young people and older people together, and to help them listen to each other.

Here are two tried and tested Quaker practices.

What makes your heart sing? An opportunity to share ideas of awe and wonder to inspire future events.

Sharing stories, sharing connections An activity to encourage listening and the discovery of common ground when meeting with young people.

8. So, where are the young people?

We hope this Conversation Starter has encouraged you and people in your local congregation to think and talk about young people – where they are and how you might build connections with them. 

We hope it has allowed space for people to consider the connections they already have and how to cherish these.

As we come to the end of this Conversation Starter spend a few minutes to think and respond to these further questions:

  • How has this Conversation Starter prompted your thinking? Personally? In a Church context?
  • Has it changed your thinking or encouraged you to do something/stop doing something or invite someone else to do something with you?
  • What will you do next as a result of engaging in this Conversation Starter about Where Are the Young People?

N.B. If you are facilitating this conversation, invite the group to share their thinking about these three questions.  As well as individual actions, what are the collective actions that the group might take as a result of working through this Conversation Starter?

Tell us what you thought:

We hope you have enjoyed using this Conversation Starter.  We'd be really interested to find out how you have used it and what we could have done to make it even better.  Please spare us five minutes of your time to fill in this evalation and feedback form.  

Click here to access the form (opens in new window)

9. Going further

Other resources and links:

Here are some links with details of organisations and further resources to help you engage with young people: Click here

Click here to go back to the opening page where you will find further resources for worship, reflection and conversation.