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Spiritual Development

At the YMCA, we aim to work with everyone, especially children and young people, in a holistic way - providing them with a space to develop their spirituality, as well as their minds and bodies. What we mean by spirituality is a person's capacity to love, hope, and be humble.

In creating an atmosphere in which people feel welcome, safe and accepted, we hope that people will do the same for others. Our hope is to see children and young people in healthy, supportive relationships. We ultimately want to affirm the Christian message that we are all loved, and can love others.

It is also important to us to celebrate life. We seek to create opportunities to have fun. Life is full of pressures, so we aim to be a place where children and young people can play and enjoy themselves, free from the anxieties and stresses of the world around them. We ultimately want to affirm the Christian message that life is good, and that there is hope for each of us.

Though humility is a word that has gone out of fashion, it is very important to us at the YMCA. Humility doesn't mean putting yourself down, or being a push-over. It is simply an awareness that we don't know everything. I need to listen to others, and I need to help others, because they are just as worthwhile as I am. We ultimately want to affirm the Christian message to put others before ourselves.

We use three tools to develop these capacities in people; working together, self-development, and prayer.

Working Together
We try to create a space in which children and young people feel like they are a part of something positive. A part of this is simply developing their relationships with their peers; making friends. But it also means encouraging them, that together; they can make a positive contribution to the world, whether it's at home, school, in their neighbourhood, or in the wider world! Jesus created communities, especially focusing on bringing in the people who were alienated or marginalised, and then instructed the communities around him to continue his mission after he was gone.

We also want to encourage children and young people to develop their skills and passions. This could mean any number of things, from literacy and numeracy courses, to guitar lessons, to anger management. Love accepts people exactly as they are, without asking them to change, but it also shows people the best in themselves, and encourages them to be that person. Jesus said he wanted us to live life ‘in all its fullness'.

Prayer does not need to mean closing your eyes, bowing your head, and saying "Dear God...". What we mean by prayer is encouraging young people to express themselves; their joys and pains alike, through words, or art, or music. Prayer does not need to look very religious - it is just the out-working of the hope that if we are honest about ourselves, we might find something real that was there all along. Jesus taught people around him to express themselves in prayer - encouraging them to ask God for the things that they really wanted, and to be honest with him in their struggles.

For more information, please email our Christian Spiritual Development Worker Tim Leeson.