Sharon caught up with Helena Kittle and asked her some questions about her work over the summer. Helena did a Discipleship Training School with YWAM in 2009 in Perth, Australia and she now works for YWAM England as their National Coordinator for Youth and Children’s Ministry. She is also the team leader of a pioneer work with youth and children’s ministry in North London. She speaks at various conferences on youth and children’s ministry in England, Australia and Hawaii.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I live in London and really enjoy ballet and running a coffee morning for carers, so I tend to do a lot of baking for that. I also like hanging out with my friends. This year I have achieved 2 new things; I ran for Mencap in the Watford 10K race in under an hour and I have learnt to Ski.
Helena, I understand you have had a very busy summer, what have you been doing?
I have been the National Children’s Coordinator for the Olympics and so have been very busy organizing that over the past year or two, but it culminated in the summer when the Olympics
actually happened, so you could say it was a little busy!
What did that role involve?
I was responsible for recruiting volunteer teams to work with Youth and Children and set up events for them around the country. There was a lot of networking involved, as I worked across the 7 Olympic cities to identify outreach opportunities for youth and children’s ministry. One of the most exciting parts of the job was to look for creative projects for the young people to actually be involved in outreach during the Olympics.
What did you enjoy most about your work during the Olympics?
I felt really privileged at seeing the national picture of what God was doing in the cities and amongst the children and young people. It was interesting to see that He was doing similar things in different places. I also enjoyed working with so many different nationalities and learning from them. The more I got involved in the work the more I wholeheartedly embraced the fact that children can be missional and reach out to people in their communities. It is quite a radical message for some people and churches to grasp, but there was always the encouragement of one person getting it and becoming passionate about
seeing children reaching out in mission to their community.
I have been running seminars called ‘Think Strategically’ in which people are encouraged to reflect on their ministry and where the opportunities for development might lie, these have proved very popular and have helped people to see the importance of engaging children and young people in mission. The work I have done over the Olympics has reinforced my belief that if children are not involved in all aspects of the life of the church especially mission then the church is incomplete and is weaker for it.
What do you think are the important skills for leadership?
I would say that effective leaders need a real heart for seeking God on things, praying and interceding for what God is doing. Networking has been a big part of my work during the Olympics, as we sought to join the dots and work in partnership across the 7 Olympic cities. It is also important for the leader to be strategic and grasp a sense of the big picture. An effective leader needs to relate to people from very different backgrounds and be able to communicate to them in different ways whilst keeping the message the same.
What did you learn from the work with the Olympics?
The Olympics is very competitive, is about being the best and having power over other people to beat them. For many athletes their identity comes from being the best. Whilst none of this is wrong in the Olympic setting, it is not right to bring these attitudes into church life and so it was important that the work we were doing was collaborative and done in partnership rather than in competition.
I have also leant a lot about the importance of the spiritual realm. We need to engage in real prayer for what was happening and to discern how we should pray by reading what God was doing. My prayer life really developed over the summer.
What is it like being a woman in YWAM?
It’s great; there really is no problem with gender in YWAM. David Hamilton is on the international leadership of YWAM and he wrote the book ‘Why Not Women,’ so this is modeled in the organization.
What would you say to young women who want to develop their leadership skills?
- Be brave
- Give things a go
- Learn from your mistakes
- Lay down your rights to a reputation and pride
- Learn to serve – look for the gaps and be willing to fill them, even if it means cleaning the toilets