Nat Stiles is one of two new Mission Enablers (along with Sarah Howes) who joined the Gen2 project in September. She caught up with us to talk about her experiences of the last few months.
I am very lucky to be based in two different churches in our Diocese (St Peter and St Paul, Uppingham and St Andrew, Whissendine) which gives me the opportunity to be involved in different areas of ministry. I am passionate about intergenerational church, where each generation connects together to worship God. Although the last few months have seen so many restrictions, it has also given us a chance to try new and exciting ways to worship and stay connected.
Lockdown gave me an opportunity to pause, pray and fully think about where God was calling me to be. As a mum, I wanted to support parents/carers, so I turned my energy to a weekly newsletter, which included a short reflection and different links to ideas about online family-friendly worship. I also completed a mental health First Aid course, and I hope to be able to offer support to families and schools.
After researching different ways to engage online, our youth group Rooted was able to restart meeting, but on Zoom – they are such a blessing to our church. It was so important to keep that connection with young people – to just take some time out of the week to worship together, play games and encourage them to keep going on their journeys with Christ. They particularly liked to laugh at my general knowledge when we challenged each other in a quiz! Together we chose the name ‘Rooted’, based on the Bible verse from Ephesians 3:17–18: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”. This has helped us to remember that through all these unsettling times, our roots and connections are in Christ, and that we need to show these roots and Christ’s love to the people around us.
We won’t be able to go into schools for some time to deliver collective worship, but we have had great fun thinking of enjoyable ways to record worship for teachers to play in class. Over the last few weeks I’ve recorded the lost sheep from our farm, and I’ve climbed a tree for the story of Zacchaeus! I also had to learn how to edit videos, but this has really strengthened our relationship with the local school, and helped the teachers who are having to cope and adapt in so many new ways.
Going forward, it’s going to be more important than ever to get creative about worship and how we can reach out as a church. I feel really excited to see where God takes me, to keep looking for the light in the darkness and keep pushing on those new doors, making those spaces for God to come in and do his stuff!