Bookings are now open for our third event:

The Conversation: ‘Hearing Voices’ – re-imagining ministry with children and young people

31st January / 1st February 2020,

St Paul’s Church, Canterbury


The Conversation is a gathering that continues to curate space for cutting-edge, innovative, even risky conversations about children, young people and the church. We are still asking the question: How can we change the dominant church culture from ‘conquering and keeping’ to ‘nurturing and releasing’ the children and young people in our communities?

The Conversation brings people together who are open to change; to reimagine God’s good news for this generation and all generations together, who want children and young people to come into a life-enhancing, transforming and life-long encounter with Christ. Our third event is coming in late January 2020, and will give us an opportunity to explore the theme of ‘Hearing voices: re-imagining ministry with children and young people“. Which voices are we hearing and which voices are not heard? A conversation only exists when people ‘hear’ each other, but what about non-verbal communication? How does our ‘hearing voices’ relate to how God speaks? And how much attention do we give to the speaking that happens in the spaces between words?

The Conversation won’t provide answers or ‘the next new thing to do’ – together our conversation will take us deeper that we might be:
More open
More inclusive
More able to hear
More reliant on God’s grace
More like the body of Christ (without any missing limbs)

If you scroll down you will find 2018’s Programme and Contributors’ list to give you a flavour for what to expect at The Conversation 3 in Jan/Feb 2020.

The Conversation: Hearing Voices – re-imagining ministry with children and young people


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Panel 1


While we are putting our 2020 programme together, here is the programme from 2018..

FRIDAY – Conversations around FAITH FORMATION
A full day with worship throughout

How do we enable Faith Formation?
A day spent exploring what ‘faith formation’ means for ministry with children and young people. Day 1 of The Conversation will include some thinking on what an ‘intergenerational approach’ to ministry might bring to the conversation; what effect our choice of language has on how faith is or isn’t formed; and how our times of gathered worship play into the process. The day will be, as expected, an interwoven mix of conversations; including presentations, ‘open space’ where anyone can offer a way to talk about how faith is formed and an evening event focusing on the art of storytelling.

Registration from 09.30am
Close at 5pm

Three sessions with two speakers sharing on the same topic and space for discussion, questions and reflection:

1. Why worry about words?
Neville Emslie and Anne Richards
What effect does our language have on how faith is formed within our communities of faith? Do we ask questions that encourage, challenge and shape that faith forming process? What if our stories and theology were intimately interwoven to help generations explore faith together?

2. Why do ministry intergenerationally?
John Roberto and Gail Adcock
If we desire to see younger generations exploring faith for themselves we need to consider where they will encounter God, how they are encouraged explicitly and implicitly to engage with faith and what role an interaction between generations might offer that process.

3. And then we gathered…
Ian MacDonald and Dean Pusey
Our communities are often defined and described by the way in which they gather to worship. What does that gathering offer to the process faith formation? We may need to critique the nature of those gatherings in our aspiration to be communities of faith for people of all ages, bank accounts and colours.

A fourth session titled “Conversation Space” where all are invited to share insights, ideas and questions

A chance to eat and relax together
Arrive from 6.45pm for 7pm start
Andrew McDonough and Beth Barnett will lead a storytelling masterclass on how to use stories and storytelling for adults, beyond merely just ‘for children’.

more details to follow soon

SATURDAY – Conversations around COMMUNITY
The conversation about reimagining ministry with children and young people inevitably includes a need to explore the community within which that ministry is envisioned. How do we imagine our communities and what needs reimagining for them to be places where faith formation across and between generations is evident? Not merely in what is planned, programmed and put on but in the attitudes and actions of the members of that community. How would we know that a community is more interested in the forming of faith for all of its members than its own survival?

Another full and varied day with worship throughout. In the morning two more sessions with speakers, questions and reflection.
Registration from 09.30am
Close at 5pm

1. “From conquer and capture to nurture and release”
Andrew McDonough and Yvonne Morris
How can a community embrace an undefended, even risky, culture that nurtures a formation of faith without expectation or judgement? What would it look like for a community to focus not on its own success or sustainability but the deep exploring of faith of all its members?

2. Seeing the community beyond our walls
Alison Webster and Mike Harrowing
It is an oft expressed intention, even a stated reality that churches exist for those who live and work beyond its walls. Is this really possible? Are there systemic attitudes or actions that make this more less possible? Are there opportunities beyond our church buildings and church gatherings to see ministry between and across generations in action?

Then the afternoon will consist of a number of short presentations in the style of Pecha Kucha, each of which will have a subsequent workshop to explore the ideas in more depth.
Topics include:
Bringing church to church ¦ Faith Forming Environments ¦ Gathered, edgy community ¦ Being in community ¦ A journey towards intergen ¦ Because God…
Presented by:
Lucy Bolster, John Roberto, Gemma Dunning, Jasmine Yeboah, Phil Greig, Beth Barnett

Panel 2


While we are putting our 2020 programme together, here is the contributors list from 2018..

Including: John Roberto, Beth Barnett, Andrew McDonough, Dr. Anne Richards, Neville Emslie, Alison Webster, Ian Macdonald, Gail Adcock, Dean Pusey, Yvonne Morris, Mike Harrowing .

JOHN ROBERTOThere is just not another John Roberto. He serves Vibrant Faith as the project coordinator for our Certificate and Innovation Labs programs. In addition, John is a sought after speaker and workshop leader.

There is no one who comes at the process of the formation of faith with such an extensive grasp of past and current research AND a vision for the future. We are so grateful to have him giving those insights to you through Vibrant Faith. John’s publications include books, articles, and his own Lifelong Faith Journal.

John is married to Linda, and they have three adult children and three grandchildren.

bethBeth Barnett is a post-colonial, post-Christendom, post-modern Australian practitioner, teacher, artist and resource writer. Thinking about, theologising, facilitating and advocating for children and families, as both vulnerable and vibrant participators in the community of the cosmos, of which Jesus is the resurrected and revealed Lord, has been at the heart of Beth’s service in pastoral, local mission and denominational consulting roles.

Beth blogs at multivocality: “some people know me as a musician, some as a teacher, some as an advocate and resourcer in Children and Families ministry and mission. Some people know me as a prophet, some a theologian, some a writer. The people I care most about in the world know me as a mum, a wife, a sister, a friend. I guess it depends where we met on the journey…I hope to you, whoever you are, I am a fellow traveller, who walks the path of peace and an agent of grace.”

BEX LEWISAndrew McDonough is the author and illustrator of the popular Lost Sheep stories used in churches and schools around the world. Andrew belongs to the WestCare community, an inner city mission working amongst the homeless, supporting people struggling with addictions and advocating for refugees. He regularly visits school & churches to tell stories, conduct workshops, preach and lead all-age worship services. His passion is to provide high quality biblical storytelling resources to children’s workers, pastors and parents. His 32 books include Cecil the Lost Sheep, The Image of God, and his latest title Jesus was a Refugee. Andrew’s Australian, trained as a Baptist Pastor, married to Roslyn and they have three adult children.
You’ll find Andrew’s stories at

AnneKnown as a prolific writer and speaker,  Dr Anne Richards is the Church of England’s National Adviser for Mission Theology, New Religious Movements and Alternative Spiritualities. With the Mission Theology Advisory Group she has produced a vast range of resources on Spirituality, Theology, Reconciliation, Evangelism and Mission, including the inspirational book Sense Making Faith. She is also the author of Children in the Bible and (with Peter Privett) Through the Eyes of a Child.

NevilleNeville Emslie is the Director of Mission and Ministry in the Diocese of Canterbury and have worked in ministry formation in the diocese for ten years. “I am married to Hilary, a URC minister, and have three grown up children in my home country of New Zealand. This means I wear my All Blacks jersey every day under my shirt. My other loves include cricket, art, poetry, espresso coffee and rare steak. I’m completing a PhD on emotional intelligence of Anglican clergy. I’m interested in people, young and old, and middle age ones where I seem to have been stuck for quite some time.”

GailGail Adcock is the Family and Intergenerational Officer with The Methodist Church. Her background is in primary teaching, she was Family Pastor for ten years in a Luton church and recently led on the ‘We Are Family’ research project.  She’s written a guide to family ministry due for publication in 2019.  She enjoys hanging out with her husband and sons, especially when supporting Tottenham Hotspur FC.

IanIan Macdonald is a youthful middle-aged geek who seeks to serve his twin passions of Stand Up Comedy and Youth Ministry usefully, trying to bring creativity and playfulness to both. He works within the Mission department in the Oxford Diocese as the Youth Adviser, but also working closely with discipleship and spirituality. He describes himself as a follower of Jesus, and as a broken messy happy hopeful human-becoming. He is interested in everything (which makes a bio difficult to write) but is currently most excited to have been invited to speak on a ski trip, meaning he can claim his ministry is going downhill!

DeanDean Pusey has been a Diocesan Youth Officer in the Church of England most recently in St Albans from 2011-2018 and Southwark Diocese 2003-2009 in the same role and worked across statutory and voluntary sectors prior. He is passionate about Jesus and Justice. Married with two teenagers he loves Soul Music and Soul Food, travelling and people. Dean has been involved in youth ministry for a while!

YvonneYvonne Morris is a wandering wonderer playing in the adventure of life with God (and she loves it when children show her how to be a better player). She is the Adviser in Children & Family Ministry in Oxford Diocese, Worships and ministers at St Matthew’s Church in South Oxford, has authored two books on talking with children about faith. She has one husband, two children, three guinea pigs, four pet fish and five pairs of running shoes (…or maybe 6 pairs of running shoes…well, 7 if you include the cross country spikes).

AlisonAlison Webster is the Deputy Director of Mission for the Diocese of Oxford, with responsibility for social justice and community engagement. She is also author of a number of books on themes of identity, wellbeing, gender and sexuality.

MikeMike Harrowing: Hello! I live in West Kent with my wife and two (mostly) wonderful little children.  I am passionate about sharing and celebrating faith with children – I’m particularly keen on exploring new forms of story telling and equipping children to engage in the spiritual life.  Through my schools outreach project – ‘High Hopes’ –  I have spent the last 15 years experimenting with schools chaplaincy and evangelism, holiday clubs, sunday schools and various festive shenanigans. …when I’ve got time for other hobbies (which I don’t!) I love to eat really good beef burgers, and DJ at any party I’m invited too.

Panel 3


The Conversation might be just for you if you are… :
  • A Youth & Children’s Ministry volunteer or minister
  • Involved in the strategic development of ministry with children and young people in your church context
  • in ministry generally and interested in finding out more about faith formation with and alongside children & young people in community
  • part of an organisation, charity or agency interested in the faith of younger generations


  • 10 good ideas
  • Answers
  • To just sit passively
  • To have your preconceptions confirmed
  • To have everyone agreeing with you
  • To get a programme or resource to solve all your problems
  • To be challenged
  • To get fresh perspectives
  • To be surprised
  • To join in
  • To disagree well
  • To talk about being the kind of church where children and young people are seen as fellow pilgrims 
  • To hear the unexpected

The Conversation is organised by ‘The C Team’: an ecumenical group who wanted to explore ministry with children and young people that focuses on faith formation and nurture for today’s changed and changing society.

Rachel Haig –
Mike Harrowing –
Mary Hawes –
Yvonne Morris –
Sam Richards –
Murray Wilkinson –


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