Programme Driven Youth Ministry

I’ve been musing recently about the danger of ‘busy’ church/Ministry and found this list (thanks Chris) to be useful food for thought.
The Ministry to/for Young People often mirrors the Church as a whole, and is equally in danger of not only over programming but mistakenly thinking that the programme is the ministry.
I thought I’d have a play with my own list of where the dangers lie when programme (consciously or unconsciously) has become the driver for Youth Ministry. This may be an unfair juxtaposition but then again it may be helpful to polarise thee two extremes and say either ‘relationship’ or ‘programme’ will be the key driver … and those drivers will lead to practices, values and assumptions. As ever this is ‘thinking out loud’ and is aimed to facilitate debate, and my own thinking/learning, But here’s the Programme-dominated dangers I am nailing to the door:
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1. Less young people come!
If the assumption is that providing the ‘programme’ is the key, then the most energy goes into building structure, staffing/rota, and communicating the up-to-date information; assuming that young people will want to come. In reality young people come to a place where they are known, liked and a key/valued part of something; the place where community and relationship live. Over focus on ‘programme’ can produce a consumer product that teens will opt in to, or more likely, opt out of.

2. Recruitment of leaders is much harder

People commit to team and vision, they are rightly reluctant to be a prop to a busy structure. Where programme is the driver, the vision and values are often causalities because the entity becomes its own justification ‘we need to do something with the young people’

3. Teaching becomes the default position
Where the planning of the programme rules, a teaching outline neatly follows as the organisational outworking. Not that teaching is bad, but there is a huge danger that it allows less for “uncovering the way of Jesus together,” for putting faith into action, for genuine co-learning, and for encountering God. Faith becomes structured and informational.

4. Change is less likely to happen

Where programme is king, it continues to rule. Young people have less voice and less influence and do the only thing they can … vote with their feet. I see many churches that continue to run the programme they have run for years even when it is no longer working. One church told me about the ‘GREAT camp’ they run every year that the leaders love but are finding it increasingly hard to get young people to come to!

5. Segregation is the default position

Because the programme is key, involvement in the wider church and its activities must be programmed and timetabled well in advance. Although this is technically possible it happens much less as a result. The reverse is also true that busy programme churches less naturally and organically include the young people.
6. It is harder for the Young People to participate and influence
Programme is much more likely to be sorted by the adults for the young people rather than a participative journeying together. Youth Ministry is done ‘to’ not done ‘with’ the young people

7. Rota replaces relationship

Where Programme is the framework then a rota of leaders becomes a rational approach. It doesn’t matter who leads, where the continuation and depth of relationship is, as long as there are enough people to keep the programme running. If you run it they will come (Kevin ‘Field of Dreams’ Costner theology)

Isle of Wight

I had meant to close down the blog for the summer but the entry detailing this crashed then disappeared, it’s whereabouts now only known by the myriad of Googlebots who are busy hoarding these things. I thought therefore a brief explanation of my absence may be in order. I have been overseas!
Ok, it was only the Isle of Wight BUT it does involve a ferry journey and it also involves time travel …. given that the Isle of Wight feels like stepping back thirty years (in the best possible sense). Fantastic family holiday camping over on the far side of the Island near Bembridge, and especially enjoying Whitcliff Bay where we spent every morning enjoying sea, sun and sand. The Island is incredibly beautiful and a very restful place to be, it really is a top place to holiday.
Special Yay to the deeply wonderful “Tuppenny Beach Cafe” which seemed to encapsulate everything a beach cafe should be; fun, quirky, welcoming and affordable. The food was great (we loved the homemade cakes), it sold everything you might need at the beach, and it was a fun place to hang out.
Special Boo to Southern Vectis Buses who charged us £8.75 for a sub 2 mile journey and then because they didn’t do returns, the same to get back again. It was too hilly and hot to walk that distance with the wheelchair so £17.50 in total it was, a price that would make a London Cabby blush.
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(Above) Photo of Godshill taken with my phone!
Back on the mainland now though, manning the desk and the byways of the Diocese!

Before You Sign Up

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I recently came across this useful website aimed at 16-18’s thinking of joining the armed services. It contains some helpful information and questions that may be really useful for the young people (or for youth workers working with them) to help them more realistically evaluate if this is a good step for them.
As the web site points out, the UK are unusual allowing 16 year olds to join up. Helping them to have the tools to fully assess the implication is therefore vital.
Before You Sign Up

Newsy stuff

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*Newsflash* (not that this term has any cultural significance any more as all news is instantaneous anyway, but I still like it).
September 11th and October 10th: New Appointment Training and Support group. If you are new or newish to role and you’d value a monthly meeting for support, learning and development then SIGN up for this monthly session. Useful and Good Food!
September 27th: Next Network Meeting for Employed Youth Ministers (we’ll be looking at Health and Safety). The venue is CMS Oxford
30th October: I’ve been invited to take 8 young people to the House of Lords for some faith and life related discussion. Cool huh! (Mention it in case you know of any year 11s, 12s or 13’s who might like to be involved)
3rd, 4th November: The I.D Weekend. Really excited about an overnighter in Berkshire with Bishop Andrew for young people in years 10 and 11. We’ll be exploring discipleship, having fun and reflecting on experiences of confirmation to be able to put something useful together for the church. Up for recruiting AND finding one or two young people to be part of the planning.
July 12-14th 2013: YELLOW BRACES
So, there you have it. I wanted to flag up some important stuff for next term before the blog is mothballed for the Summer! I discovered that the readership drops considerably over the summer as at least seven of the nine readers are too busy running round looking for tents for Soul Survivor, away at ‘Let God Spring into acts of Royal Harvest growth’ or in hiding somewhere.

Yellow Braces and the Jelly Church

As ever at Yellow Braces we were exploring living out The Kingdom, making sense of it as we travelled through the weekend. Specifically also this year we were looking at ‘Church’ (connected to the launch of the Youth and Child Friendly awards).
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Sarah Brush had the BRILLIANT idea of making a Jelly Church with a congregation inside of Jelly Babies. As well as being technically brilliant (you’ll have to ask her how she did it) It was a fabulous way of exploring the ‘body of Christ’ and that we are made of the same ‘stuff’ as the church.
Sarah looked at the light that fills the church and fills us … and that we take out with us being light in the world. As part of this fabulous mission conversation there was much fun with the fact that not all Jelly Babies are the same, different characters, different gifts (check out the info on Jelly Baby packets). Then everyone was given a small Jelly baby figure (non edible) that glowed in the dark to take away with them … a visual reminder of our calling and mission.
Oh, much fuller write up here on Sarahs blog EVEN the technical info on how to make YOUR OWN Jelly Church.
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Thanks Sarah 🙂