Youth Church …… thoughts

This blog post a few days ago featured an e-mail that was asking, ‘youth church, what do you think?’ Thanks for the responses, really useful.
This is my response to the e-mail ……
Really excited to hear the opportunity that you have AND I can relate to the difficulty of trying to get church to change and minister to those that don’t fit the church “norms”
We have a vibrant and successful “youth” church here in the Diocese so they do exist, so yes I’ve seen one and I’m impressed with what they do. Maybe there’s not much writing about them as they are a contensious issue involving wrestling with theology, cultural situation and the need to be pragmatic.
While I believe there is something important about Churches being a community that involves being the body of christ across age ranges, ethnicity and background I am convinced that the work with young people often happens outside of the ‘regular’ church anyway and we only have a nominal model of integration. So a Youth Church only is just more intentional about this.
Reflecting theologically on this one I find quite difficult and I always end up coming back to missiological mandates like Matt 28 and also Paul wanting to be all things to all people that he may reach them for Christ. It’s hard (for me) to find a theological argument for or against …. I just crash into ‘values’ of believing that the Body is all ages ideally.
I guess I then come down on the line of Youth Church is good where it’s the right response. But I find myself with three important “If’s” …
1. Youth Church is good if: It doesn’t exclude different age groups i.e It forms as a youth church to live/have/be an ecclesiology relevant to young people (especially when they are not welcomed in the main church(es) ) but is open to all who may find that they encounter Christ through it or engage with God through it.
2. Youth Church is good if: It has clear accountability somewhere. There are great dangers (as we have discovered in the UK) if something new is not kept accountable in theology and practice (obviously that accountability must be given by people who ‘get’ what you are trying to do)
3. Youth Church is good if: It’s focus is being/living Church, not just being a youth programme dressed up as church.

4 Replies to “Youth Church …… thoughts”

  1. I agree, those points are good. I also think it’s a good thing if you have a cooperation with another church with other age groups. Older people have a lot to give. I’m responsible for a youth conference in our church this weekend. A lot of older people have picked up the conference folder, not because they want to be there during the weekend but because they want to know what we are doing so that they can pray for it.

  2. hey,
    your blog doesn’t look very well. Is it supposed to look like this with the calendar and lists under the posts???
    hope you’re ok…see you next week!

  3. the whole youth church thing has been soemthing thrown around here in NZ for about 10 years or so, but largely it hasn’t got very far. And i like many youth workers are starting to move away from it – and towards more of what I call a pain in the neck model. That is trying to get young people in the faces of the older church.
    Here in NZ a movement has started that is ‘intentionally’ planting youth churches – Primal. it’s on of them organisations that I look at in horror – and has probably done a lot of my shapping in my opinions of youth church
    here is a link if your interested in a sneeky peek
    http://www.primalyouth.com/

  4. Youth church is a great idea, imo. Go for it, bro. Reminds us of how the ladies met for prayer down by the river, recorded in Acts. In a similar vein is Paul seeking out other tent makers. LIkewise, youth have much in common with each other and can have bona fide meetings. All this the context of being part of the multi-generational whole church, of course.

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