JNC and the Kingdom of God

I’ve got a pretty good handle on what we mean by youth work and some good definitions. However when we get into talking about Christian youth work and where that fits into what we then mean by youth ministry,
simpsons lovejoy.jpg it gets a little more confusing. Churches are increasingly looking for JNC qualified youthworkers (which is great) but we need to be clear on the role that they are being asked to do. Quite a few of them are trained in youthwork and with some theology but not neccessarily ministry. In what way is ministry the focus and it what way is it youth work? How much of an overlap is there?
Youthpastor.com has a list of definitions of youth ministry, some of which I agree with, many of which are good starting points for reflection. Interstingly Infed have also put a page up with the question.
Sudders threw this into the mix this morning as “a work in progress”
1) You can study theology and not be a christian
2) You can be a christian and study theology
3) Or you can study theology and be called to ministry
1) I am a youthworker, i do youth work, the focus of my work is youth
2) I am a christian youth worker I do youth work in both a christian
and secular setting and the focus of my work is young people and their
needs, this will include an aspect of spirituality
3) I am a youth minister, the focus of my work is God who calls me into ministry with young people

I guess we could look at it from a number of areas: Basis, calling, practice or focus. Over to you, your thoughts please ….

8 Replies to “JNC and the Kingdom of God”

  1. Got to your blog from the blog everyone reads – Jonny Bakers!
    This issue of youthwork &/vs ministry is still very much alive and kicking – Danny Breirley didn’t finish it depsite trying to!
    Churches that don’t define their Job Specs clear enough may soon run into trouble…

  2. some already are running into trouble, the short term difficulty is that when we are training new youth workers (if at all) we are training them with a jnc and applied theology degree. Most job descriptions ask for that type of thing but want a youth minister, Like Ian said this is a workin progress but im slowly getting to the point that jnc and youth ministry are essentially at odds with each other (and i have a jnc) the level of professionalism expected in getting a jnc and training in being called to ministry would be better training (discuss)

  3. Ian, how about:
    Number 4. I am a youth minister, the focus of my work is God who calls me into ministry with young people – I express this calling by working in both Christian and secular settings?
    If I believe I am called by God to minister with young people my ‘philosophy’ and focus should not change despite the manner in which that calling is expressed.
    On the subject of the tension between church youth work/ministry and professionally trained youth workers, I too wonder if there is too much pressure on youth workers/ministers from churches jumping on the band wagon and advertising for JNC qualified workers.
    As someone involved in the training sector I interview students who feel called to youth ministry and have chosen to study on a course validated by the JNC without realising what the letters stand for never mind what work is entailed.
    They have read that they can get better paid jobs or that they will indeed receive comprehensive training but are sometimes stunned by the prospect of working at the local youth centre and fail to see the necessity of doing so because they have every intention of remaining within church-based structures once they qualify.
    Furthermore, I think that those who are advertising for JNC qualified workers or even advertising JNC salaries should spend time reading through the National Occupational Standards for Youth and Community Workers to help refine their job ads. and to come to an understanding of the level and depth of work they are asking for by using those infamous letters…JNC

  4. Betty,
    Thanks for adding to the debate, appreciated your insight with your addition of a “number 4”
    (I hope the number of students who are resistant to a local authority placement are small?)
    Do you think that the “JNC” becoming the currency for both statutory and faith-based is helpful or not?
    P.S Will now be doing a little survey and asking how many Churches requiring JNC are aware of the youthwork NOS?

  5. Ironically the small number of students who have shown reluctancy in stepping outside their church comfort zones have all been offered jobs with LAs!!!
    I hope that this pattern (coupled with students’ giftings and calling to work with young people) reflects the quality of training and the value of adopting JNC status.
    I don’t think that faith-based organisations should shy away from JNC qualifications (unless they can provide a standardised, high quality alternative specific to their own needs – if they differ).
    I think that JNC qualifications and a set of clear standards are valuable in both sectors…the problem is whether people understand what it means. It should not be something adopted lightly or there will be probelms emerging as ‘sudders’ suggests (Sudders – I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the ways yth. min. and yth. wk. are at odds with each other).
    P.S. Very interested in your ‘mini-survey’ Ian!

  6. Made me laugh about the “comfort zone” students getting offered jobs by LAs. That’s a real strength of JNC, getting students to reflect, learn and grow.
    I think the JNC is fantastic and very valuable, the fact that statutory/faith based has the same standard is of enormous benefit. I wonder though for youth ministry positions we should be asking for JNC qualification and Ministry experience.
    I wonder whether we should develop some COS? (Church Occupational Standards)

  7. Betty’s back:-)
    I agree with your comment about JNC and youth ministry training being fused as part of the training for those entering Christian, faith-based work and many Christian colleges do offer this (my institution included). My point was that I feel as though churches and students alike have heard of JNC but have not fully grasped what it means…it’s the latest buzz word to float around and an easy reference when writing job ads or securing someone with a credible qualification.
    Pete (27/11/04) mentioned Danny Breirley’s discussions around ‘Joined Up’ youth work and ministry. This work suggests that youth work core values (and subsequently occupational standards) are intrinsic to Christian values. If we accept Mr Breirley’s discussion it seems that the next step must be the development of COS as you suggest. However, I think that we would need to approach the area tentatively due to the political undertones of the current OS. However, I do believe that some written, standardised basis for Christian youth work would be of value for Christian organisations, youth workers and the wider community – providing a clear, professional, open and honest basis for youth minitry work to develop. I also think that many youth workers/ministers would feel more valued and recognised…not just as someone who’s great at ping pong and is carrying out their 4th Youth Alpha group! (sorry to stereotype). I think it would be extremely valuable to be open about our work and provide a COS to work towards – having said, that our church is still trying to decide what kind of door bell to put on the ministers office door (2 years in discussion!)…agreeing on the foundations for COS could prove interesting!!!
    Have a peaceful Christmas.

  8. Jumping on the bandwagon a little late here (but then this one has already spanned the months).
    The church certainly should get involved in defining some professional standards for youth ministry, as opposed to equally valid secular youth work. After all, the church employs the greatest number of youth workers and marshalls an even greater number of volunteers, so we must be doing something right.
    One of the problems with my own JNC / theology training was that I suspect my college (I can’t speak for others) took on the JNC somewhat uncritically. Theological reflection, yes, but nothing that challenged JNC assumptions. So students working in a community setting (a strength of the church) were given training designed for somebody working in a youth centre (which often only large suburban ministries come close to emulating).
    At the risk of sounding cynical, it doesn’t surprise me that students wary of leaving their church comfort zone suddenly get a Damascus road conversion after training for the JNC (27/11/04). I suspect that they suddenly find their training hasn’t equipped them adequately for work within the church and they feel more comfortable in a youth centre with like-minded similarly trained colleagues.
    Not that being a Christian in an LA setting is a bad thing, but its ironic that many JNC / theology courses were originally designed to raise standards within the church.

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