A NEW association, Paraklesis, has been launched to support lay people working in youth, children and family ministry.
The charity, launched on Monday, is led by Ali Campbell, who runs The Resource, a youth and children’s consultancy, and is backed by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, who chairs the Trustees of the charity My Ministry. Paraklesis is the association’s first project.
In 2019, Bishop Snow commissioned a survey of youth and child workers, which received over 630 responses (News, September 19, 2019). Many respondents said they lacked training and qualifications, as well as adequate line management and mentoring.
Mr Campbell said on Monday that 74 per cent of those surveyed said they wanted to stay in youth and children’s ministry until retirement, prompting the question: ‘What does a sustainable career path look like?’
He continued: “Paraklesis, taken from the Greek, simply means to be beside, to travel with, to be an advocate for. That’s where we get “Paraclete,” that sense of the Holy Spirit being the Comforter, and the One who is by our side. That’s why the name is what it is, because we want that to be what the organization does.
Paraklesis membership is open to children, youth and family ministers, whether they are salaried (full-time or part-time) or “senior volunteers” in their church. The cost for full-time ministers is £50 per year, for part-time ministers £25 per year, and membership is free for those studying for an academic qualification in youth ministry, children and families and who have at least one year of training to come.
Benefits of membership, according to the Paraklesis website, include a free mentorship session each year by an experienced practitioner; access to resource discounts; and access to recommended support service providers for those experiencing challenges in the workplace, such as stress, relationship breakdown or discrimination. The website also offers a forum where members can discuss ministry.
Churches can join as members for £100 per year. In return, they will be asked to sign “a charter charter that will put in place values, structure, and support for child, youth, and family ministry to flourish,” and “a suite of ‘best practices’ that will help churches concerned with the leadership, hierarchy, mentoring and accompaniment of their children, youth and family ministers”.
Mr Campbell said he hoped Paraklesis would ‘create some kind of atmosphere, an environment where people feel they can thrive in ministry’.