Investing in the next generation - Q&A

By Andy O'Connell

Left to right: Anna, Mark and Jacqui

During the panel on 4 June 2023, 33 questions were asked. We were only able to answer a few in the session, and committed to give brief written answers to the questions here. Similar or overlapping questions have been combined for brevity.

What is OCC's approach and how can I get involved?

1. How do I get involved?

There are lots of ways to get involved: joining a team to work directly with children or young adults, helping behind the scenes, mentoring a young person or student one-to-one, cooking meals, or praying.

To explore how you can play your part please contact the team via @email (0-18s) or @email (students). 


2. What does "investing in the next generation" mean and why is it a priority for OCC?

When OCC was founded in 1985 it had a founding vision to disciple university students (recognising the importance of that calling in a city like Oxford) as well as continuing to support the development of a new approach to Christian education (initially through The King's School and the Christian Schools Trust network, both of  which were led by one of our leaders).

Also, as yesterday's panel said, we're determined to be a church where children are fully catered for. (This was not true of all churches in 1980s!)

Finally, data shows us (Talking Jesus 2022, p35) that most people who become Christians, do so under the age of 18. 

At a certain point, we reworded our vision and values and all of that got wrapped up in the phrase "investing in the next generation."


3. Our ethos: working with team

As a church committed to training and discipleship, our ethos is not simply to recruit a single person (staff youth or children's pastor) to do all the work with children or youth, but to empower team leaders who will train and equip a team (of volunteers) to work with children and youth. This is inclusive, empowering and trains people to play their part in other churches when they move on from Oxford.

We have been inspired by African-American theologian Dr Anthony Bradley who has researched and published on the need for parent-like figures, not just "older brothers and sisters", in the discipleship of younger people. Both youth and student teams have flourished most when older 'parents' work with young adults together.  


4. What do we mean by "discipleship" and how does it work in OCC? How do the Christian values of grace and discipline best interact? How do we keep going when it doesn't work out as we hope?

"Discipleship" is one of our core values (vision and values) - follow the links there for more information. 

For people of any age, discipleship thrives when both care (support, grace) and challenge (discipline) are in place. This short video (4 min) includes a brief explanation

Discipleship isn't a quick fix, and we are committed to walking with and supporting people for the long haul, through the ups and downs of life. 


5. How do we invest in parents as they parent the next generation - sharing and talking about faith at home (and not leaving it just up to the church?!)

This question helpfully draws out that parents are first and foremost responsible for the discipleship of their young people in their household (whether biological children or looked after). Data shows us that the largest reason people come to faith is through growing up in a Christian home (Talking Jesus 2022, p.31). 

We support parents through personal mentoring (personal pastoring), with all church members encouraged to have personal mentors. Where children are in the family, we would look for mentors who have their own experience of family life. 

We have access to parenting courses that we sometimes run for a group, and can also be used in personal mentoring, if there are specific needs.


6. What does OCC do now for younger people?

The church (that is us together) runs various activities for 0-18s, university students and younger adults, including Bible teaching, prayer and worship, the offer of one-to-one mentoring, leadership development, and evangelism (activities vary by age group). Around 60 people serve in these various teams, overseen and supported by church staff (pastors and administrators).

Importantly, the church (that is us as individuals in our places of work and community) is also involved in a wide range of professional and voluntary roles serving young people across the city: teachers, social workers, foster carers (we're a Home for Good partner church), youth workers with other organisations - and much much more.


7. Do we care about older people too?

Absolutely! We encourage all of our community groups to proactively tailor what they do to the needs and interests of the people they are reaching, as summed up in the phrase "a community for every community". This includes adults at different stages of life.


8. How can the Church better reach and build trust with kids and young people whose families are outside of church? How do we reach children in schools who have never heard the gospel?

We're doing quite a lot already for a church of our size, and currently, in fact, are looking to refocus what we do, and not try to do everything. Steve spoke on this a few weeks ago

We directly support our two partner schools with church staff time. We are pastorally supporting church members as teachers in several other schools. We are not otherwise currently working directly as church-paid staff into schools, and have no current plans to consider starting to do so.


More specific questions

9. What are the hardships and potential dangers of fostering? What tips/advice can you give to someone who may be interested in fostering?

OCC is a Home for Good partner church, and produces many excellent resources on these questions and many more like them. You can find out more about opportunities to get involved here. Anna is also happy to talk to others about fostering - you can contact her via the church office.

"Home for Good believes that we all have a part to play to ensure that every child and young person has the home they need. We work to mobilise the Church in the UK to respond to the needs of children in care through families stepping forward to foster, adopt or provide supported lodgings for teenagers and churches wrapping around families with support, and to influence wider society through advocacy and engagement to create systemic change." 

Or visit: 


10. Please can you sum up the theology/bible basis for Christian schools?

There is more about our diverse involvement in education at

For a summary of the case for Christian education read this article by OCC member, former Principal of The King's School, and now CEO of Christian Schools Trust, Steve Beegoo.


11. What are the greatest needs amongst diaspora children?

Jacqui answered this in the panel discussion. For more information on the work of African Families in the UK, or to contact Jacqui, please visit


12. How can local services, especially GP Practices direct patients to you that may benefit from AFIUK?

Please contact AFIUK to explore how referrals can be made. 


Contemporary cultural issues

13. How can we help raise our children to learn and spread the love of God surrounding all the contemporary issues in today's society?

This broader question is answered topic-by-topic below.


14. How can we equip (ourselves) to deal with contemporary issues surrounding gender & sexuality with grace and truth?

We endorse the work of Living Out, who produce many excellent resources on these important contemporary questions.

In OCC we have invested significant time and training in helping those working with the next generation to understand and respond well, including training events in 2017 ('Engage'), 2020 (leaders conference), 2020 (youth and student teams) and 2022 (Living Out conference). It also forms 1 module (out of 12) in our Upper Room theology and leadership course. 

"Pursuing godly sexuality" is one of our key practices (vision and values) - follow the links there for more information. 


15. How do we contend for women to rise amongst our youth and young adults?

In OCC, we are committed to every young person - male or female - flourishing, as we support them growing in relationship with God, and invest into their training and discipleship. 

For example, with university students and post-university interns we have seen several young women growing into effective leadership and church ministry, in speaking, leading, and worship leading. Just look back at some recent Sunday services to see who has been involved.  


16. How might we invest in training/equipping our young people with basic apologetic skills to coherently explain and defend the rationality of the Christian faith?

We have been reshaping our youth programme to ensure that a holistic approach to evangelism and social justice is being learned, with a context of 'a community together on mission'. We are also working on this within our student programme. Apologetics are one part of evangelism. We sometimes partner with OCCA.


17. How can we equip (ourselves) to deal with contemporary issues surrounding race, racism and discrimination more broadly through a gospel lens?

We have been working on this important issue in OCC for some time. Read more about it here and follow the link for our blogs on this topic.


18. How can we support young people’s mental health effectively (for those of us who aren’t MH professionals)? Given how overstretched mental health services are for young people, is there a role for the church in this?

Both youth and student teams are very aware of what has been called 'a mental health epidemic' and have accessed training either as a team, or through professional/work roles. For example, one of the student team is a MH first aider at work.

The OCC pastoral care team is also continuously keeping updated on training and resources, including pastoral approaches that can help people with mental health concerns. In short, it is very much on our radar and something we are attentive to.