Tonight at Arun Community Church, we’re hosting the brilliant Romance Academy team as part of their Let’s Talk About Sex Tour. It’s free to attend so if you’re local to Sussex come along!Continue Reading...
Archives For Youth Ministry
Posts relating specifically to working with young people in a Christian context
This weekend, I once again took a trip down the coast to Eastbourne for Youthwork The Conference. As usual, the event was really well organised and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up and connecting with other youth workers. As part of the conference, on Sunday morning a hosted a one-hour session titled ‘Replacing The Youth Service’.Continue Reading...
I was a little bemused over the weekend when a friend tweeted me I had made Youthwork Magazine’s 100 Best Websites for Youth Ministry.Continue Reading...
I’ve been thinking a lot about how churches choose to run youth groups and would like some feedback on why you do things the way that you do. Continue Reading…
In addition to celebrating our 12th Wedding anniversary yesterday, I also had the privilege of Baptising a young man I have worked with for the same amount of time.Continue Reading...
Well I finally made it to the Youthwork Summit. After 2 years of near misses, it was good to be at the event and participate along with 1,000 other Christian youth workers. The following is some of my notes and observations from the day, but is no means comprehensive. The official summit website will be posting videos of the talks (along with previous years), so keep an eye on that to get a better taster of what it was like.
What is great about the summit is the format. Because everyone only speaks for between 5-15 minutes, and they all cover a diverse range of topics, it means there really is something for everyone.Continue Reading...
Last week I spent the majority of my time in The Littlehampton Academy, helping to support the Prayer Space that was happening there. I previously blogged about the first prayer space we ran in the school last year, and this was a very similar experience. We again used the resources from Orison, to create an interactive experience encouraging people to engage with prayer using creative, hands on activities. It was set up in the school hall and the young people were guided through four different zones exploring specific prayer-related themes in each one as part of their RE lessonContinue Reading...
Back in November, I wrote a post titled ‘Motives for Youth Ministry‘ where I asked Christians working with young people to explain why they did it. I had some great responses in the comments, but I’m now looking to develop that research with a simple survey.
I’m writing a chapter for an upcoming Youth & Policy publication on the theme of Christian youth work and want to ask a very simple question of Christian youth workers (of which I am one). It doesn’t matter what sort of setting you work in, whether you are paid or voluntary. All I would like to know is:
What is your primary reason for working with young people?
To make things interesting, I’m only giving you two possible answers;
- to do something positive for others/serve/love others/make a difference/etc. (social action), or
- to tell people about Jesus (evangelism).
I know this is very simplistic and people have a whole host of reasons for doing youth work, but go with me on this. Many people will also say it’s about both sharing the Good News and doing good for others, but I want to push you to pick one or the other based on your personal motivation!
If you really disagree with this either/or question, then please leave a comment explaining why. Your thoughts would be helpful.
So here’s the poll:
Thanks for your help!
The book comes in two editions; for youth leaders, and for parents, and is accompanied by a comprehensive website that provides additional material and regular updates over at stickyfaith.org. The whole idea is based on six years of study by the US based Fuller Youth Institute who set up the College Transition Project, a longitudinal study that followed over 500 high school seniors during their first three years in college. As they state:
The goals of this research are to understand the dynamics of youth group graduates’ transition to college and to identify the relationships and best practices in youth ministries, churches, and families that can help set students on a trajectory of lifelong faith and service.
Despite being based on some rigorous academic research (you can read the research overview and criteria on the site), the books are very accessible with lots of stories and examples to help draw out the findings. They are also very honest and don’t shy away from asking hard questions such as ‘why do so many “Christian” young people end up walking away from their faith?’ While there are no easy answers here, the authors do suggest some key ingredients they have found that make a lasting impact on the young people they studied helping them to retain a ‘Sticky Faith’.
By “Sticky Faith” we mean a combination of characteristics, all of which exist in a dynamic tension…
- Faith that is both internalized and externalized: a faith that is part of a student’s inner thoughts and emotions, and is also externalized in choices and actions that reflect that faith commitment. These behaviors include regular attendance in a church/campus group, prayer and Bible reading, service to others, and lower participation in risk behaviors, in particular sex and alcohol (two behaviors we are studying specifically). In other words, Sticky Faith involves whole-person life integration, at least to some degree.
- Faith that is both personal and communal: a faith that celebrates God’s specific care for each person while always locating faith in the global and local community of the Church.
- Faith that is both mature and maturing: a faith that shows marks of spiritual maturity but is also in process of growth. We don’t assume a high school senior or college freshman (or a youth worker for that matter) will have a completely “mature” faith. We are all in process.
Encouragingly, the research confirms that it’s never too early or too late to start developing faith that continues to grow and lasts and gives a good theological/philosophical framework and some practical relationship and programming ideas that develop long-term faith in teenagers.
I’m wanting to do a little bit of informal research around Christian youth work/youth ministry, and our motives as workers for doing it.
I believe that most Christians would understand a scriptural mandate for working with young people. Many of us would quote [youversion]Matthew 28:19[/youversion] and the Great Commission as a reason to do evangelistic or proselytisation work, and many of us would also state that simply serving or ‘loving’ others (as commanded in [youversion]Matthew 22:37-40[/youversion]) is an equally important aspect of the Gospel. Some Christians will be doing youth work in a church environment, while others are working in statutory or community settings taking a very different approach, yet still citing their faith as the motive for their work.
There are a number of books out there on the theology of youth work/ministry, and some of you will have studied this in depth on a degree course, but I’m particularly interested in hearing from YOU about how you understand your work in light of scripture. Your interpretation will define how you do youth work, and the sort of activities, events and general approach you take. Do you have a rigorous theological framework for youth work? Or to put it more simply, how does your faith as a Christian motivate your practice with young people? What does that look like?
I would be very grateful if you would leave a comment below so we can get some discussion started on this subject! Go!