Overflow: Training Methodist Young Leaders in Ireland
Leadership Development with young people takes on many forms. I experienced the “Overflow” weekend in Belfast at Newtownabby Methodist Mission just two weeks ago. The weekend was a spiritual retreat with a framework that provided participants with skills and vision for how they could take what they experienced, their gifts, and their enthusiasm for God into their local church settings. The music for the weekend was inspiring and inviting – it was done by volunteers coming together. Sound, lighting, food, prayer, and speaking all drew on the gifts of youthworkers and the young people themselves.
It was great to hear about the growth Overflow has experienced – starting with 20 participants and now involving more than one hundred. One of the challenges for the churches where these young people attend, will be in opening their arms to embrace their youth and the energy flowing out of this experience. Will the young people find a place to share their new skills? Will they be given room to worship in ways that may go beyond the traditional worship styles found in their home church?
If the Methodist church wants to keep youth connected, and grow the church through them, they will need to adopt the spirit of Eli who perceptively encouraged Samuel to respond to the voice of God and then courageously live that word in his world. I encountered a tremendous sense of young people listening and responding to God’s call in their lives during Overflow. It will be a challenge to their church to join them as they seek to journey with God into the future.
Overflow is not a typical leadership seminar, and that makes it unique. I hope to learn from those who have created and nurtured this opportunity so that other youth in the Methodist family can benefit from the lessons learned here.