I’m currently writing this blog from a new part of the country. I’ve recently been lucky enough to relocate to Cambridgeshire to take up my role as a Council For World Mission (CWM) Iintern, starting at the beginning of October. It’s cropped up in conversation a few times now, but it’s always difficult to describe what I will be getting up to when people ask things like “What does being a CWM intern actually mean?” and “What will you be doing?”. The short answer is, “I don’t know yet”, but to sum up, my remit covers supporting the local URC in which I’m placed as it develops its mission and engagement with the community, which will, no doubt, involve going outside the four walls where the church gathers in order to meet people in the wider are, for whom the church will likely be unfamiliar. Quite a broad job description, I know, but one with many opportunities and possibilities!
I’m not the only person to have moved to a different part of the country recently. Many of our bright and clever young people have decided to take the next step in their career, or education requiring them to move away, sometimes even to a different country! Whatever the reason or distance, many young people have upped and moved to totally new places to live amongst totally new people.
Now I’ve taken the plunge myself, it’s actually quite daunting! I have been able to settle in really well, quite quickly, but I count myself very fortunate to have done so. I’ve had a superb welcome from my church and I’m really grateful to them for going out of their way to make sure I’m feeling at home. However, I know that having friendly people around me, with similar beliefs to my own, as well as a general sense of what will be asked of me during my period of service is not something everyone enjoys.
Looking for a Christian community can be quite daunting in a big crowd. Put on top of that, attempting to find someone from URC Youth who’s also in the same place as you is potentially like looking for a needle in a haystack! For those attending college or university, your local Christian Union or a Student Christian Movement can offer a great chance to gather with fellow young Christians. If you’re lucky, you may even bump into someone from URC Youth!
However, if you’re struggling to find fellow Christians or URC Youth friends around you, then now might be a good time to send an email to your Synod CYDO or Youth Worker to introduce yourself and ask about potential opportunities to connect with fellow young Christians in your area, participate in the life of your new Synod or try to find that person you saw back at Youth Assembly in January, with the interesting t-shirt, whom you just can’t get hold of!
Building community, in whatever form, starts with putting yourself out there, getting to know the setting and doing lots of talking with lots of different people. After all, the best ideas come out of those odd, everyday conversations we have with others. The more people you know and talk with, the better chance you have of finding what you’re looking for. If there’s one thing to take away from this blog, it’s this; put yourself out there and be willing to make yourself a bit vulnerable (within reason!), soaking up the unfamiliarity and freshness of the new environment around you. it’s actually quite exciting what can happen!
And, of course, enjoy the experience of being in a new place, doing something different! Just remember that such experiences are often much better when you have others to share them with as you create new, fun, inspiring and precious memories together.