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4 BBNI staff members standing in a row, at a conference for youth ministry, along with 2 of the event organisers

A morning with Andy Hickford

Blog Published on 02 Feb 2024

Some of the staff team of BBNI were delighted to be invited to an event on Thursday 18th January with the Church of Ireland Youth Department (CIYD) and the Irish Methodist Youth and Children (IMYC) in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast called a Morning with Andy Hickford. For those of you who do not know him, Andy Hickford is the Director of Jubilee Leadership and has 37 years of local ministry as local church leadership under his belt and is a recognized teacher, author, and trainer. Andy has roots connected to the Boys’ Brigade in which it was at a BB event where he met his wife – Cerys.

The morning was split into two sessions. The first being focused on youth ministry and the second half focusing more on teaching and leadership for us as leaders and volunteers working in youth and children’s ministry. We were posed an interesting question: How do we bring the Good News and Gospel to this generation? This is something important to us at Boys’ Brigade as we aspire to advance Christ’s Kingdom and in a rapidly changing world for young people, we need to be sure that we are able to bring the good news to those who we minister to. Children and young people face a high range of influences in their life and those influences can have a negative or positive affect on their lives. We should be aware of the things in their lives that will have a negative impact on them and their relationship with God and the Bible, such as the effect of social media, peer pressure and society. In reflection of the rapidly changing world we are living in we were also encouraged to think about the type of change that we face, both within how we teach the Gospel in the current world that young people are living in alongside offering support to them and their needs and then how we need to change with the world as we can’t do what we always do and expect to get different results.

Andy related the world we are living in now as a “modern day Tower of Babel.” That we are living in a world where everyone is trying to do their own thing and we are in a gray zone, that we know where we have come from, but we do not know where we are going.

The answer to this is looking at ourselves, and the big question that followed this was “Who am I?” and “What does it mean to be human?” Andy challenged us to think about how we are as humans and how we are all made in God’s image. As we minister and build our relationships with God, we too will discover more about who we are and who God made us to be. Everything else will flow from this. We as Christians need to build on our relationship with God and by reading our Bibles and regularly praying, we too can get closer to God and in this we will feel alive and be restored with a sense of purpose. Andy taught us that by experiencing the mercy of God, we cannot help but do good for others and that in knowing Jesus we are energizing our outer world of activity.
Finally, Andy brought us back to the Bible and to the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10: 38 -42, the two sisters who invited Jesus into their home. Whilst one sister, Martha tried to ensure the house was tidy, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Jesus speak, Martha was not happy. But we have much that we can learn from this. The world is a busy place, we always have things to be rushing off to or something to be doing however we need to also slow down, reflect on our day and take some time just to sit at the feet of Jesus and experience God and we will be filled with his love and Holy Spirit.

While our priority in Boys’ Brigade is to Advance Christ’s Kingdom and to bring the message of God to the boys in our organisation, we also must remember how important it is to remember to take our own time with God as well. That to give we must also receive, and we if we are not taking time to look after our own spiritual health and wellbeing we cannot be expected to give to others. You cannot pour from an empty glass. One thing I took away from this event was to remember my own time with God and to encourage a new way of thinking for how to minister to children and young people.

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