21 September 2017

Pais Ireland

Future v Present

Many suggest young people are the future of our churches and the future of our nations but what might our communities look like if young people were encouraged to ask the right questions, discover God’s heart and act upon it, here and now? What might our churches look like if a generation of young people were empowered to seek His Kingdom first, living it out in the present?

We have a Problem

A number of years ago I was involved in youth work in my local church in Manchester. We built a large youth group with numerous connection points that young people could be integrated from the community to the church. Over a short period of time we saw many make decisions to follow Christ, something we were very excited by and considered a successful ministry. A few years later I realised we had a problem, I looked around and they had all one by one dropped out of connection. We had introduced them to church but not to Christ, they had learnt the right answers but not understood God’s heart. I began to question, is youth work really working?

Pais exists to spark a Global movement where the primary concern is the Kingdom of God and people are equipped to advance it in their world. We do this through three alternative approaches: to Mission, Discipleship and Study.

Mission

Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom is near, and he empowered His twelve disciples to advance it. Pais have come to the conclusion that we do not need a new kind of youth programme but a new kind of missionary. We aim to go, “Beyond Attraction to Application.” Our primary role is not to attract people to a building but to empower them in their communities. Our initiative called, “because you’re loved” (BYL) (www. becauseyoureloved.com) provides simple opportunities for young people to engage locally in everyday mission and provide an overflow for the love they have experienced from God. Based on 1 John 4 verse 19 “We love because He first loved us,” it is a very simple way that young people can share a really deep love. Recently, over 70 young people signed up to be part of the “because you’re loved” lifestyle. However the success is not in that number but in the stories that are filtering back.

Joanne, a young lady, attended our ‘Dared to Love’ gathering (part of BYL). Here she was inspired by the Pais team to live a real missional lifestyle each day and was given the help and encouragement she needed to be able to reach out to her friends. She decided to invite two of her friends to an event at her church, where they both made decisions to follow Christ themselves, and they are now chasing the youth leaders, hungry to discover more about Jesus and living their lives with Him. Joanne is discovering that she can bring incredible influence to her world and her friends are quickly following in her footsteps. The great thing is, these kinds of stories are not just one offs, but are increasingly becoming the norm.

Discipleship

As Christians we often talk a lot about the initial decision, but Jesus commissioned us to make disciples. In reality our young people do not simply need another coffee and chat or another accountability session, but a mentor to walk with them on their journey. We aim to go “Beyond Education to Experience.” Our primary method of discipleship is not classroom education but an experience of the kingdom.

Recently, I met a young man called Joshua from one of the churches that have a Pais apprentice. He has been mentored for a number of years by one of our apprentices. Through this support and empowerment, he set up and runs a Bible study with a number of his friends at school. He also regularly takes assemblies where he shares his faith and story with the whole school and runs various mission activities through his Christian Union. He is also beginning to draw his friends into his passion for his school, bringing one of his friends to work with the Pais team during his work experience week.

At the beginning of January, Pais relaunched and rebranded their website (www. paisproject.com), for which a number of young people wrote about their experiences of being mentored by Pais apprentices. Lauren, from Northern Ireland, became a Christian through a performing arts academy run by Pais Ireland. She is now a student, but until she moved away for university, Lauren was mentored by a Pais apprentice. She wrote, “The Pais team have always been a huge influence on my journey since I became a Christian in 2005. Being in fellowship with people and being able to meet every week has really helped me to grow in my relationship with God. Having the Pais team investing their time in my life has really shown me God’s love and how being a Christian is real!”

Study

Effective discipleship cannot be based on experience alone, of course, and understanding God’s word is vital. Pais is passionate about re-equipping our young people to study the Bible. We offer young people creative tools to help them discover and share new truths from God’s word. There is power in teaching people how to think, not simply what to think, to pass on simple methods that lead to understanding, not simply knowledge. We aim to go “Beyond Curriculum to Culture.” Our primary method of study is not a curriculum in church but a culture of discovery and sharing in our communities. Our Bible study groups, known as “Haverim Devotions” or HDs, (Haverim simply means ‘friends who study together’ in Hebrew) are environments aiming to create opportunities for young people to dig deeper into the Word, search for God’s heart and apply His principles.

During March all the Pais teams across the world took part in a global Haverim study. Students who connect with the Pais teams in nations like Ghana, USA, GB, Germany, Brazil, Canada and Ireland have been studying together the same passage of Scripture and journaling online their discoveries. Over the four weeks they have studied a passage on four levels: intended meaning, implied meaning, interpreted meaning, and inspired meaning. It has been fantastic to read many short blogs from young people around the world discovering and sharing with each other different aspects of God’s heart. This gave a small glimpse of what could be, if a movement is sparked of young people who are hungry to really understand their Creator’s heart.

The Pais Project was established in 1992, with offices on four continents. We train, equip, mentor and resource youth ministries plus offer a FREE apprenticeship in youth and schools ministry. In practice this is done by placing full-time teams in churches long-term, making missionaries of young people and serving local schools. Pais Ireland was established in 2002 and has recruited, trained and sent many young missionaries to churches both home and abroad. If you would like to hear more stories of our work please take a look at our website www.paisproject.com where you will find lots of videos and written stories.

We are looking at expanding the work that we do and are seeking out churches with the same missional heart as ours to partner with us to place new teams of passionate, vibrant apprentices in. We know that to spark such a movement across Ireland, we need to work together with churches and we are excited about the opportunities this collaboration will bring.

We are also recruiting apprentices for the coming academic year. If you are thinking of taking a life-changing year out please visit www.paisproject.com You can follow us on www.twitter.com/ paisni or www.facebook.com/paisni We are a registered charity and operate through donations, voluntary time and prayer support. If you would like to join with us sparking a global movement of young people advancing the Kingdom of God in their worlds please contact markriley@paisproject.com

MARK RILEY