The Champions Team… an interview with Mark Williamson

“So tell me about the Young Adults Round Table,” goes my opening gambit to Mark Williamson, “what do I need to know?” “Well, firstly – that’s the old name for the old group,” Mark replies. It seems there is some catching up to do….!

Rooting back through the annals I discover that Young Adults (YA) Round Tables date back many years. Over time things have developed – new leaders and bold new name (read on…) – but the focus has always remained on providing support to Fresh Expressions (FX) for young people. They are the place where the FX movement intentionally creates space to focus on and inspire work with and for young people (20’s-30’s if you’re wondering), and are overseen by Mark – who is also Executive Director at One Rock International. FX YA involvement is actually a return gig for him, as Mark was originally on one of the ‘Round Tables’ of old ten years ago – only recently being asked by FX to come back and oversee the developing area.

It works like this: young adults are often involved in pioneering new expressions of church for other folk like them, or sometimes its older people who develop something new for the 20-30’s. It doesn’t really matter, age is just a number so I hear… Anyway, FX encourages these people to meet in regional hubs where they can share stories, support, resources, inspiration, encouragement… Basically, local(ish) places where they can share the journey and travel on together as pioneers in their own contexts. This is really important, because the work they are doing is crucial – reimagining what church means for people who don’t connect with the inherited model and yet (as well reported about this generation) feel a deep need for a place of connection, spirituality and meaning. For more on this, have a read of our recent ‘Inspire Me’ article – [link] ‘Keep Calm and Be Contextual’.

These hubs – currently meeting in Manchester, London and Leeds but with possibilities for emerging hubs including Wolverhampton, Leicester and Cambridge – meet four times a year, are ecumenical and open to any person who is involved with or thinking about FX for young adults. They are also places where feedback can be passed to FX HQ about areas of support that practitioners identify so that the best strategy decisions can be made by leaders to support the hubs and pioneers.

Which brings us back to the ‘Round Table’ – the place where these hub leaders meet with FX leaders to share the experience and wisdom of practitioners and enable feedback to the various denominations about YA work to be shaped by those working at the grassroots. “What are the Round Table’s called now?” I asked Mark. Slightly awkward silence… “Well,” he says, “It’s a developing thing, but we’re thinking… The Champion’s Team. It was going to be The Champion’s League, but we thought that was a bit….” I nod, sagely. Anyway, The Champion’s Team may at first sound possibly erring on the triumphalist, rather grand, and certainly very football-y – however, a quick google of the word ‘champion’ and it suddenly makes a lot more sense. “To vigorously support or defend people or a cause” sounds like a very fitting task for this newly configured FX leadership group. The YA pioneer practitioners, daily rising to the challenge of a new landscape in which to be the Body of Christ, need champions – people who have their back, who will support and advocate for them, who will listen to and learn from them. We all could do with that kind of champion, so a big thumbs up from us to The Champion’s Team and all those who they support and, well, champion.

If you are a Young Adult involved in or thinking about FX or pioneer work, or are working with Young Adults, then you are invited to roll up to a hub! They are there for you, and you would be very welcome. Please get in touch with us to find out more about what’s happening in your area.