Outgoing Director of Evangelism & Leadership, Phil Knox speaks to new Missions & Evangelism Director, Joel Preston as he hands on the baton. The exchange covers Joel’s journey, youth work and what’s exciting him about the role…

 

Tell us a bit about your previous job and your journey to Youth for Christ.

I was Youth Minister for St Michael’s Church in Stoke Gifford. I’ve been doing church-based youth work for ten years but I started on a gap year with Youth for Christ. I then spent 4 years with Nuneaton Youth for Christ, which were formative for me. That’s where my passion for seeing young people come to know Jesus really blossomed.

What are some of the things that excite you about your new role?

There are so many areas. One is our touring teams, that have been key for many years. Another is our prisons ministry, bringing hope to young offenders. And The Year Out, which is a brilliant way to get to know Jesus better and be trained to share the good news of Jesus with people. I’m also excited about some brilliant things we’ve got coming up like digital evangelism.

Where do you think are the big opportunities for Youth for Christ/churches to engage with young people over the next few years?

Well, the exciting and relatively new online space is something we need to be pressing into. As I take up the baton, Youth for Christ are doing a totally great job of that but I feel there’s more we can do. I’m keen to look at exactly what digital evangelism looks like but also how do we do it relevantly, well and in a way that transforms lives for Jesus. I’m really excited to be pursuing that.

You’ve worked with young people in a local setting. As a youth worker, what was your digital device policy? Were you like ‘Put them down’?

That was the temptation, initially, but if we’re looking to be relevant, where young people are at is on their phones on social media. What we did was to encourage use of phones to download a Bible app. I’m all for using technology to help young people get closer to Jesus and equip them to share their faith with their friends.

Tell us a bit about your leadership blog and why developing young leaders is so important to you?

I started leadanyone.com to process my own thoughts on leadership but people found it a useful thing for them too. I’m passionate about leaders developing their skills and giftings in a way that sees God’s Kingdom grow. If we equip people to influence their peers and networks, it will change the lives of individuals as well as cultures across towns, cities, countries and the world.

What are your hopes about the role Youth for Christ is going to play in mission and evangelism in Britain over the coming years?

As I’m passed the baton, my hope is to be enabling Youth for Christ to become the most innovative, relevant, gospel-sharing organisation there is. One that is relevant to where young people are at and able to focus on what might work in 10 years’ time. So, innovation is going to be key.

How can people be praying for you as you step into this new role?

Prayer for me and my family as we get used to this change in work, would be great. I’m excited about the challenge of leading nationally. But it’s going to be a big change from working in a local church with young people, face to face. Pray that, as I serve the movement, the ultimate results will be more young people being transformed by Jesus.

I’m really excited, as I move on after 12 years at Youth for Christ, to be passing the baton to such brilliant hands.

By Phil Knox