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It’s All About Connection!

It’s All About Connection!

11th October 2021

 

I remember wandering around New Wine Leadership Conference with our church children’s coordinator, and we got to the TLG stall. As a church, we were praying for a way to better engage with local families. We already had great relationships with nearby schools, but we felt called to go further in serving and sharing the Gospel in very practical ways.    

The more we looked at TLG and the concept of Early Intervention coaching, the more it answered what we felt called to do. We had a picture of a two-way bridge: the church reaching the community and the community reaching into church.  

So we just went for it. It was so timely as well, because the local authority were making huge cutbacks in their provision and support in schools. I remember a headteacher saying that a family has got to be ‘beyond crisis’ to even access help. So it seemed to be God’s timing as we could see the possibilities of a TLG partnership with Early Intervention coaches coming alongside children and families to make a real difference. 

Shortly after partnering with TLG, there were a lot of bereavements in a local school. Normally a school, or a church, would really struggle to provide the necessary support in those circumstances. Yet, because TLG was in place, we had the resources, structure and relationships to reach out to the children and their families. More than that, every child we reached represented a family who we were able to show God’s love to and refer them to wider support where it was needed. Suddenly, the church’s position in the community was extremely relevant. It met people where they were, making a much bigger impact! 

Something that really drew us to TLG Early Intervention was that it’s about not always about the church being “the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”. Churches are often drawn to crisis ministry and while there is a real need for that, Early Intervention means that churches can step in early and speak a positive voice into children’s lives, equipping them and supporting them now for a more hopeful future. You get to tell children ‘you are a unique and wonderful’. You can speak so much goodness into their lives.  

Even as Early Intervention grows, and we’ve coached 47 children, it’s not just about numbers. It’s about going deeper and wider to truly engage and build relationships! I've often said it's the one-to-one relationships that build the church and Early Intervention does that beautifully.  

Through our TLG partnership, we get to connect, on a deeper level, with families who have very little connection with church. Connections are made, but not in a traditional way of ‘let's get you into a pew’! Instead, our intention is to be like Jesus: to meet people where they’re at and show them real love. We see lives transformed, but not in the small way we expected. Lives are drastically changed! 

Some of the children we coach come along to a group we started called The Fridge. It hasn’t been able to run through lockdown, but it’s a youth group started by children from our church as a place for them to ‘chill’ out. We would always finish with a game or a short message while the parents were collecting their children, so that was yet another crossover point where families who had kids being coached had an easy space to connect in with our wider church family. TLG Early Intervention led us into partnering with TLG Make Lunch and Boxes of Hope. We started Make Lunch in a school setting, but later moved it into the church as the relationships we had built grew deeper and our position in the community evolved. 

TLG has never felt like a bolt on to our church ministry. It’s always felt very much at the heart of who we are, part of our DNA. It has helped me personally step back and see the bigger picture of God at work in our area. We’ve been able to join in with God at work in the community! 

To find out more about how your church can partner with TLG, visit tlg.org.uk/your-church 

 

The TLG Early Intervention coaches at Christ Church Clevedon were able to offer crucial support to Sophie and Ellis, two children who were desperately struggling in school and suffering poor emotional wellbeing after their dad died. Coaches Gerry and Helen spent dedicated 1:1 time with Sophie and Ellis every week to help them recover from the trauma they had experienced. 

“I used to feel all alone," says Ellis. "I would crawl up in a little ball under my bed and just hide. It was a huge relief when Gerry came along. Things weren’t so hard for me anymore and I’m more open to being myself now."

We were able to reach Sophie and Ellis thanks to our army of TLG Hope Givers, whose generous monthly donations mean that TLG can reach thousands of children with the support they desperately need. But there are children who are still struggling alone, with no one by their side. We need to reach these children with life changing support before they hit crisis point. 

Will you become a generous Hope Giver today and make a difference to the lives of children like Sophie and Ellis?

Clive Jennings

Clive Jennings

Clive is the Vicar at Christ Church Clevedon. Christ Church are one of TLG's amazing partner churches! They run both TLG Early Intervention and TLG Make Lunch and love being able to engage with and bless their local community.

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