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Sticking it out for the one in ten

Part of the nature of schools work and SU groups is that you will see a lot of young people come and go, but with all the opportunities available to them these days, it can be difficult to find young people who are able to commit.

Gillian Orr has been part of the running of Kingussie High School SU group since 2000 and has seen it evolve in a variety of ways over time. In reflecting on the initial forming of the group, it was clear that starting from nothing provided a lot of challenges in encouraging attendance and inviting people in. When we have seen these groups or communities set up before, and witnessed them working really well, it can be hard to anticipate the difficulties, especially in the early stages when you are just starting out. However, a great way to encourage a group to grow naturally can be through using the connections and relationships already in play. When Gillian’s son started High School a few years later, it was a lot easier to gain numbers and commitment from young people, both because they knew Gillian, and because of their involvement with their primary SU group.

But, just as in any journey evolving a community and group, there are times and seasons where numbers were higher and other seasons where numbers were lower. Gillian recognised the importance of growing those who were involved and committed long term into leaders and helpers of the group itself. There are so many kids who come and go in an SU group, so it is crucial that we release those to be leaders using their skills and abilities, “for every one kid that sticks with it, there are 10 that haven’t, so it’s really good to see that one kid!”

This was reflected in the participation from one boy in particular who helped to shape and lead the SU group in new outreach opportunities within the school. This boy had been attending the group for many years, sometimes on his own, and wasn’t from a Christian family. The leaders of the SU group and this boy came up with a plan to reach out to more young people in the school through a drop-in where students could come and get a free milkshake and watch a NUA video. Opportunities like this can really allow young people who are committed to a group to grow in their faith and keep going with their involvement in a really positive way, and what a blessing it is to be able to witness that and be a part of that journey with them!

In this way, an important aspect of serving in schools is being aware of the individuals you are serving and supporting. Looking for the opportunities where you can release them to contribute more and allow them to be involved in the decisions for the group. In reflecting on the evolution of the SU group, Gillian mentioned that there are times and seasons for everything, sometimes the whole thing is about one child and at other times it can be really important for the kids who have been helping out. So perhaps the key point is recognising the times and seasons when you are serving a school, looking for who has the greatest need for the service, and taking the time and energy to build that up. Sticking it out for the one in their season of growth.

By Kathryn Thomson