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We are privileged to have some amazing people in youth and children’s roles across Blackburn Diocese, writes Tabs Halliwell of the Youth Provision Development Team.

In August we were sad to see one of our longest serving employed youth pastors – Jo Pellet – move on into a new season in her journey with God.

We pray for Jo as she takes this faithful step into all God’s calling her to and honor her for her years of service at St James’ in Clitheroe.

And before she goes we asked Jo, fourth from right in the picture with some of the St James’ youth, to share some wisdom about what she believes are key to longevity and effectiveness when it comes to youth ministry in a parish church.  

Jo writes:

I have had the incredible privilege of serving the young people in my community of Clitheroe for 18 years, over 14 of which have been employed by my church, St James.

It is a rare thing for a church youth worker to be in post longer than 18 months, so what was the key to our longevity?

There are many reasons, but here are just a few:

  • A supportive, releasing, encouraging church family, who have grasped hold of the vision for investing in young people for themselves and see the importance of doing so.
  • A church leader who treats the youth pastor as a disciple: to teach, help to mould and shape; not an employee to be used.
  • The freedom to try new things and sometimes fail, but learn and be encouraged, and get back up again knowing that our ministry to young people is so much bigger than ourselves.
  • An acknowledgement of realistic targets and expectations that ensure your youth worker isn’t spread too thin.
  • Good communication between the team and regular ‘checking in’ but not ‘checking up’!
  • A mutual understanding relationship must always take priority over task.

I will miss operating within this role, but I hope I am leaving a legacy in our church and in the lives of individual young people over the years. A legacy based on Jesus and the good news He is for us today; one based on love, acceptance, encouragement, challenge, experience and opportunity.

I have genuinely loved every young person I have had the privilege of working alongside (yes, even those extra challenging ones!), and hope I can keep continuing to share my life with young people. It’s all about relationships and so I am in it for the long haul…wherever God takes me.