New initiative invites young people to give a year to God

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Young Christians in the Diocese of Chichester are being invited to spend a year with a church discerning what God's calling on their life might be.

The invitation is going out as part of a new initiative called 'Pursuit' launched by the diocesan youth team to get young believers thinking about their vocation. 

Pursuit is giving young Christians the opportunity to give a year to God by serving with a local church focused on an area of ministry that inspires them. 

As part of the initiative, those who sign up will have hands on involvement in the diocese's flagship youth event, May Camp, with a chance to plan, lead and join over 500 young people in worshipping and learning about Jesus. 

Pursuit will also give associates the chance to take part in a two-week overseas mission trip serving Jesus in a 'new and challenging' location that is different from what they are used to. 

Dani Taylor, the Diocesan Youth Officer who is leading the new project, said: 'Our vision for the Pursuit year is to see a generation of young leaders released to learn, grow, be challenged, make mistakes and, most of all, to lead in step with Jesus.

'However, our vision is beyond a year - the journey towards being a great leader is a lifetime pursuit. We want young people to catch God's vision for his people and to be the outworking of that in the world.

'Participants will be able to spend a year, unhindered by responsibility, listening to God, serving in the local church and discerning their vocation and call.

'They will have the opportunity to love and serve the local church and their community as well as give time to God and deepen their knowledge, theologically, biblically, spiritually and practically. We want all associates to be able to gain hands-on experience that comes from pursuing God, seeing where He's working and joining in.' 

The Rev Carl Smith, rector of St Mary's, Slaugham and St Mark's, Staplefield knows from his own experience that such a year can make all the difference to discerning God's calling.

He took part in the YES scheme (Youth Equipped to Serve) at St Luke's Prestonville in Brighton back in 2000, which gave him the chance to work with young people as well as in other areas like worship music, the parochial church council, and city-wide ministries. 

Now as an ordained minister, he is hoping that a young Christian can experience a similar time of growth at his church. 

'When I reached the end of my time at college, I knew I wanted to do something for God but was unsure as to what that could be. A number of people suggested I try a year out in the diocese,' he said.

'It was great to have a year in which I was able to explore different aspects of ministry inside and outside the church, aided both by an amazing mentor and a great vicar. It was also really formative for me to share this experience with five others who were doing the same year out in other churches.

'I highly commend a church-based year out to any young person who wants to explore ministry in any capacity. So much of what you learn will be transferable to so many situations in your future ministry, whatever that may look like.'