What might listening look like?
Listening doesn't always look the same! It will vary depending on what you want to hear, what the young people have to say, the situation in which you find yourself.
This is how one church listened to children before starting a new venture.
What did we want to find out?
- Our Benefice wanted to set up a new group for children/young people but wanted to hear their views before we went ahead.
Who was involved?
- We invited the 9 - 13 year olds from the churches in the Benefice.
- The Vicar, three of the youth team and a youth specialist (who facilitated the evening)
What about the practicalities?
- All of the young people knew why they were there and had permission to take part.
- We provided soft drinks and snacks during the session.
- The young people were assured that their views would be taken very seriously. However we also made sure that they understood that we couldn't promise that all of their suggestions could be acted upon.
How did we begin?
- We started with introductions and an explanation of what would happen in the session.
- As an ice-breaker we played three rounds of 'My favourite (colour) is X because........' to help us think about decision making.
We then moved on to the main part of the discussion.
'Our church is thinking about setting up a new youth group for children/young people. We want to know what you think.'
- Is a good idea? Why/Why not?
- What would be the best place and time for the group to meet?
- How often should the group meet?
- What age should it be for?
- What sort of things/activities should the group do?
- How could the group make links with the church?
- What else do we need to think about?
We kept a careful record of what the young people were saying so that we would not forget their views and contributions.
At the end of the session, each young person was given a response card and asked 'If a group was set up with some of the things that you have suggested, would you go?'
At the other end of the room was a board where they could stick their response card:
- thumbs up for YES
- thumbs down for NO
- thumbs sideways for NOT SURE
The results were nine YES and one NOT SURE.
This encouraged us to pursue the idea, and to keep consulting the young people at every stage.