Archbishop Justin Welby launches Difference for Youth Groups

Posted by Martin Kitara on May 13, 2024

Young people

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reconciliation Ministry extends its Difference programme to church youth groups to help nurture and encourage a generation of peacemakers.

Archbishop Justin Welby with guests at launch of Difference for youth groups

Last Wednesday (8 May 2024), Archbishop Justin launched Difference for Youth Groups as part of a celebration of young people at Lambeth Palace. The event was an opportunity to thank all the young people who contributed to the development of the Difference resources for young people and reflect on the importance of equipping young people as peacemakers.

Difference for Youth Groups is a free, seven-session resource designed for church youth groups. We hope and pray that Difference will support a young generation to disagree well, cross divides, and promote peace and justice in their everyday encounters and relationships. Each session combines film, interactive activities, a chance to explore the Bible, and time for reflection.

 Difference for Secondary Schools launched earlier this year, with primary schools set to follow in 2025. Through a series of immersive sessions, young people engage in meaningful dialogue, practical exercises, and reflective activities aimed at fostering empathy, understanding, and resilience. To get started, register for training to run Difference with your youth group. 

To celebrate the expansion of the course, Archbishop Welby hosted more than 400 guests in the gardens of Lambeth Palace, attended by young people, church leaders, pastors, and educators, for an evening of celebration and activities.

Speaking at the launch, Archbishop Justin Welby said: “The Difference course has a series of sessions. It comes from the Bible. It is life changing because it does what God asks. It values diversity because God made diversity. It seeks unity, not unanimity. It doesn’t say you all have to think alike, it says you can be different because you are different. It’s simple, and it’s fun. We did it with some friends a couple of years ago to see if it worked and how it was, and it was just mesmerisingly helpful. And Difference doesn’t oversimplify. The biggest mistake we can make in reconciliation is to simplify the complicated. Relationships are incredibly complicated, whether in a youth group or family, or between Israel and Palestine, or in Ukraine or in a civil war. They are incredibly complicated.

“This country can make two things in your lifetimes of being the most diverse country on Earth. It can be the most generous, amazing, caring, transformative, exciting place where diversity is celebrated and is a gift. Or we can turn into our little groups and miss out on what God wants for us. And it’s not my lot that are going to make that difference, it’s your lot – the young people who are here and those like them.”

Equipping young people with tools to navigate difference

Shem Pinnock, a youth leader at Ruach City Church in Birmingham, piloted Difference for Youth Groups. He said, “The Difference programme has been inspiring, innovative, and impactful. Equipped with the tools to engage young people as they navigate difference and build the courage to cross divides, it has been transformational not only for the youth but also for myself. In today’s world, with all the challenges our young people face, Difference has proven to be a necessary and invaluable resource, with reconciliation at the heart of its cause.”

Shaun Almond, a youth director who ran the course with young people at Kingsland Church, Colchester, said, “To me, the Difference course is so invaluable because it equips our kids with skills for life. The current model in this world is not one that promotes peaceful conflict resolution. Scroll through social media for 30 seconds, and you’ll see how differing opinions are treated. But the Difference course reimagines a world where conflict can be explored by promoting curiosity and discourse in lieu of anger and closed-mindedness. It actively seeks what it means to be in the moment with those who come from different worlds with different views from our own and illustrates how Jesus’ teaching was radical in nature as he handled all this and more with compassion and aplomb. Difference needs to be immediately incorporated into all of what we’re teaching our teens, both inside and outside of the church.”

How to get started with your church youth group

Difference for Youth Groups is free to access and run. It can be used by both large and small school groups. Leaders facilitating the course can adapt and tailor sessions to their contexts and the specific needs of young people.

The first step is to register for training to run Difference with young people. Once completed, you will be given access to all the course materials on our website.

You can register for one of the training sessions below:

Recommended articles

Secured By miniOrange