"We heard God say He was going to connect us to the poor in spirit"
From an article by Kairos Connexion
Josh Cutting attends Network Church in Sheffield. He has been involved in running FORM which was a discipleship training year based in churches, but for many years they had have wanted to do this in the marketplace, for more vulnerable people groups and demographics.
A year ago, they heard God say he was going to connect them to the poor in spirit and when the government announced the employability scheme called 'Kickstart' (16-24-year-olds job opportunities) they knew this was the opportunity. They partnered with Together For Sheffield who have a wide network and are connected to most of the churches in the city.
They created 6-month job placements, all with Christian businesses, for 18-24-year-olds who had previously been on universal credit. They also created a mentoring scheme where followers of Jesus meet with a Kickstarter and de-Christianized their discipleship content, making it relevant for those looking to be more employable.
The Kickstarters are placed in a job that pays them 25 hours a week, and every 2 weeks they meet with Christian mentors and come to employability training. The training always refers to Jesus. For example, when talking about how to be a good leader in the workplace, they say that the best example they know of leadership is Jesus and this is why. They have found this sparks conversation and allows them to see who might be people of peace.
They have seen 6 make professions of faith, 4 of these are in ongoing discipling relationships. They have seen 6 more connect to reading the bible or more intentional faith steps. They have multiple stories of breakthroughs and God answering their prayers.
One young adult had not left his room for 9 months during the pandemic, having his food left at his door. He now has a full-time job, has led groups for them and is exploring faith. Currently they have 15 people who come to regular coffee times or meals with members of the church.
They are soon starting a church around this group, meeting in the week and more intentional space on a Sunday. Members of this group are hungry and searching and the church is making spaces to facilitate this. Some of the challenges have been that their lives are still quite chaotic, so they might not turn up on time, or even at all. Many of them have post-covid social anxiety to overcome which has meant that the pastoral care needs are quite high.
They have seen 80 young adults through this year and 75% are now in full time employment. However, the Government funding has stopped now so they are looking for new models to fund this as they'd love to continue.
This is the Kingdom of God!
Listen to this 3 min video introduced by Josh about the Kickstart scheme and some of the highlights from the first group of participants:
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