For the 2nd year in a row, the national crossteach team attended the Growing Young Disciples (GYD) conference, along with around 300 others involved in Children’s, youth, families or schools work.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Authentic”.

  • How we can encourage and equip young people to be authentic followers of Jesus?
  • Are we providing authentic role models and an authentic community for young people?
  • Are we clear on what is the authentic message we have?
  • What does it mean to be an authentic messenger?
  • What is the authentic method for declaring the message we have?

There was a jam-packed programme with Bible teaching in the morning and evening, morning streams and afternoon seminars as well as time for prayer and coming alongside others in similar ministries.

One of the highlights of the conference is being together as a national team and meeting up with others involved in Christian schools work around the UK. We can share the challenges and frustrations as well as the encouragements, pray for one another and be spurred on to keep going in this work, trusting it is what God has called us to and that he will provide all that we need.

One particular seminar crossteach workers found helpful was looking at the issue of spiritual abuse. Safeguarding young people is something we take very seriously and this seminar gave some valuable guidance on what constitutes spiritual abuse and how to spot it. It can be hard sometimes to spot the difference between spiritual direction and church discipline and spiritual abuse. Training, and sessions like this, will only help make us better able to see when we might be at risk of inadvertent spiritual abuse and better able to spot when others are doing this.

For our personal discipleship, there was teaching from Matthew 5: The Beatitudes. Challenging us about what it means for us to be authentic followers of Jesus. Can we really know happiness, joy and blessing when we are poor in spirit, mourning and meek? It was a fresh challenge to live God’s way, even if this usually seems like foolishness to the world. It was a great reminder that God’s way is the best way. It was also an immense encouragement to consider again all that we have in Christ, both now and in the future.

It is an intense time and there is so much to take in and process, but it was a time of deepening relationships (with God, each other and the many brothers and sisters in Christ who were there), spiritual refreshment and much needed encouragement. We head back into schools reinvigorated and knowing that our awesome God is with us every step of the way.

It really helps that the conference centre is good too. The bedrooms are comfortable and clean. The food was amazing and we were extremely well fed. There are other facilities too for those who want to exercise (a gym, space for running and walks and a field for football) and plenty of space just to ‘get away from it all’. There are various social spaces for large and small groups and there was plenty going on after the end of the official schedule. The pool match between crossteach and East London Tabernacle (ELT) ended 1-1 and may need to be resumed next year to see if we can find a winner.

We have a good partnership with GYD and find that the services and support they provide, including this conference, are an excellent resource for us, as well as a great way to network with others involved in similar ministries. Our presence has grown over the years and we are hoping to work with GYD to add a specific schoolswork stream at next year’s conference. We have provided ad-hoc sessions in the past to equip others through training and providing resources. Our aim is to make this a place where many others involved in Christian schoolswork can come for focussed training, support, networking, opportunities, opportunities to share ideas and resources and personal spiritual refreshment. Please pray that our plans would come together and that we would be able to work with GYD to extend the conference in this way.

GYD is a charitable organisation devoted to promoting and supporting biblical children’s and youth ministry and the conference is there to train, resource, advise and encourage those in youth and children’s ministry.