Saturday evening marked the end of an era as Collective East Anglia gave their last ever performance as part of the Radiate youth event at Thumdersey Congregational Church. TCC have been amazing partners with us in using Collective in their ongoing schools work and their follow up youth events and are a great example of a local church making a real impact in their local schools.
Collective East Anglia was one of a number of Collective bands set up by Innervation Trust around 2003 to work in schools and with churches to front youth missions. The band have been based with CYO since January 2004 and has involved nine diferent team members over the years in a rolling line up as first a three piece and later four piece band. They have visited schools all over the region and, crucially, have been involved in regular follow up, going back to churches and youth groups to encourage young people in their Christian faith.
This was one of the strengths of the local bands model – that a week in school and a concert wasn't just hit-and-run evangelism. Wherever possible we would encourage churches to be involved in the schools week and especially any end of week event, and then make sure Collective were involved in follow up activities the next week and subsequently. Often this was as 'themselves', not as a band, and they would turn up and join in with the church youth workers in running activities and chatting with young people. One of the reasons that Collective worked so well was because of the quality of the people in the band – the fact that they were also a band was simply a starting point for their relationships with young people as youth workers. Some of these relationships extended long after the original schools mission with ongoing contact and occasional return visits for 2 years or more. The fruit of all this, recognising that it was a partnership between Collective and local churches, was dozens of young people who became Christians and continued to grow in and live out their faith long after the initial schools week.
Now Innervation Trust are changing the way they manage schools bands which will in future all be based with them in Manchester. Teams will be available to spend a week in any part of the country, where previously Colective bands have served only local regions. But we will miss Collective East Anglia, and so will many churches and organisations round here. One compensation is that at least two of the current team will be staying in Colchester and continuing in some form of youth ministry.
So, to Kath, Liz, Laura, Sophie, Kat, Ally, Jayne, Laura and Vicki – and to all the team at Innervation Trust, especially Mark, Zarc and Helen, thanks for all you've brought to us, to local schools and to thousands of young people. It's been an amazing five years.