CIY has partnered with Jasper Rutherford, who serves as director of CIY Europe at his station in Belfest, Ireland. After an 18-month research project partnered with Barna Group, which is based in Ventura, California, spiritual needs of the youth in the Republic of Ireland have been better identified. In October 2017, the numbers-heavy book was published; titled, “Finding Faith in Ireland.”
“Lots of the findings are sobering,” Rutherford said. “They are things that can be worrying, but also an opportunity for CIY to work with the local church. [The book] highlights the need to work with young people across the board, how important spiritual guides are in the lives of young people in order to stay involved … It’s our gift to the church to understand the needs of young people.”
CIY can play such a pivotal role for young people to not only come to faith, but stay in faith.
The book shares reports of majority of the interviewed youth (ages 14-25) expressing they have attended church in their past, but were not involved anymore. Youth workers commonly described young people as “lost” and “curious.” Jayson French, CIY vice president of programming, said the information obtained by this research proves valuable – not only for its accuracy, but for its integrity.
“I’m excited about the book,” he said. “We were excited about the partnership with Barna in just the due diligence they showed in that research. It was a year and half through the entire process, and we hired a lot of people from Ireland to help us do it. It wasn’t just an American effort to see what we could find. It was truly done by the Irish, for the Irish. I think that was one of the stronger pieces of it. I think the things we found intriguing from the study was how much Protest-Catholics among the young people have a desire to work together. In light of the history in Ireland and the troubles, it was encouraging to see the birth of this new generation having a deep desire to partner - to work together. I think the other part that was disheartening was the deep void of faith within Irish youth. While they may claim Christianity as a religion, practicing and actually being involved, there was little attachment to the church.”
One of the statistics in “Finding Faith in Ireland,” said 65 percent of young adults identify as Christian, but the Republic of Ireland’s rate of practicing Christians drops 13 percent. Rutherford said this data highlights the gap between the young people of Republic of Ireland and living in faith.
“The research shows ways to respond and help the church,” he said. “We have been listening. We want to work with the people already doing good work, rather compliment and say with humility, we are here to help and serve those youth workers and resource events. CIY can play such a pivotal role for young people to not only come to faith, but stay in faith.”
Rutherford introduces CIY and its mission in conversations, meetings and speaking events across Europe. While a CIY office will soon be established in Dublin, Ireland, events and more CIY presence continues to spread. For example, in mid-November, Rutherford spoke at the Holy Trinity Church in Brompton, England. He said speaking engagements such as this simply plant the seed for CIY’s move into Europe.
“There’s excitement and anticipation,” Rutherford said of his listeners’ response so far. “Lots of youth know MOVE is coming to Ireland. It’s important to know it’s taken five years to get where we are now. We’re at the real foundation stage and there’s so little youth ministry in Ireland. ‘Unseen’ will be a great resource for Ireland youth leaders.”
The CIY-produced video “Unseen,” will be released in March 2018 and shared with Irish young people in schools, churches and other event settings. The video hits on the topic of suicide, aimed to help youth workers open discussions and reach those in spiritual need. Also on tap to help Irish youth leaders, CIY will host a retreat in June 2018. Rutherford said the retreat and the video will continue to build momentum for MOVE in summer 2019, and French noted it is within these opportunities when lives change.
“One of the showings in the survey is when an Irish youth has an attachment to some sort of a catalytic event – a retreat, a moment – that there is a direct line of spiritual growth between that moment and their spiritual development,” he said. “So we’re excited that we can come in, and we want to encourage and partner with the church.”
American youth are helping fuel the CIY European expansion as well. During more than 50 MOVE and MIX events this past summer, between 40,000-42,000 students and adult leaders were asked to donate funds to bring similar events to Ireland’s youth. To date, $158,000 has been raised.
“It’s amazing to see such a historic response from students who are Kingdom workers in the United States,” said Andy Hansen, CIY president, “and as a result of their faith we can begin to launch a Kingdom worker movement in Ireland. We know our God is a God who does things beyond what we can imagine. It is exciting to imagine what could happen throughout Europe.”
Previously published in the 50th Anniversary edition of Kingdom Worker Connection.